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See more synonyms for gridlock on Thesaurus.com
  1. the stoppage of free vehicular movement in an urban area because key intersections are blocked by traffic.
  2. the blocking of an intersection by vehicular traffic entering the intersection but unable to pass through it.
  3. any situation in which nothing can move or proceed in any direction: a financial gridlock due to high interest rates.
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Origin of gridlock

An Americanism dating back to 1975–80; grid + lock1
Related formsgrid·locked, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for gridlock


  1. obstruction of urban traffic caused by queues of vehicles forming across junctions and causing further queues to form in the intersecting streets
  2. a point in a dispute at which no agreement can be reached; deadlockpolitical gridlock
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  1. (tr) (of traffic) to block or obstruct (an area)
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for gridlock

1980 (n.); 1987 (v.); from grid + lock. Related: Gridlocked; gridlocking.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper