Use the noun deadlock to describe a standstill, as when two people or sides cannot move beyond a disagreement.

Deadlock can also mean a game that results in an unbreakable tie or a stalemate, like when you are in a five-hour thumb-wrestling match with no winner. You can easily remember the meaning of this compound word, by thinking about its two word parts — dead + lock. The first appearance of deadlock was in The Critic, a play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan: “I have them all at a deadlock, for every one of them is afraid to let go first.”

Definitions of deadlock
  1. noun
    a situation in which no progress can be made or no advancement is possible
    synonyms: dead end, impasse, stalemate, standstill
    see moresee less
    type of:
    a complex or critical or unusual difficulty
  2. verb
    fail or cause to fail to progress because of disagreement between opposing sides
    see moresee less
    type of:
    differ, disagree, dissent, take issue
    be of different opinions
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week