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[ded-lok] /ˈdɛdˌlɒk/
a state in which progress is impossible, as in a dispute, produced by the counteraction of opposing forces; standstill; stalemate:
The union and management reached a deadlock over fringe benefits.
a maximum-security cell for the solitary confinement of a prisoner.
verb (used with or without object)
to bring or come to a deadlock.
Origin of deadlock
1770-80; dead + lock1
Related forms
undeadlocked, adjective
1. standoff, impasse, draw. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for deadlock
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • William even thought of breaking the deadlock by abolishing parliament and ruling alone, or abdicating his throne!

    Blood and Iron John Hubert Greusel
  • However, one was for Bassett and t'other for Ellis, so the deadlock wa'n't broken.

    The Depot Master Joseph C. Lincoln
  • The way out of the deadlock was suggested by the King; he proposed a conference between eight members of either House.

    Henry VIII. A. F. Pollard
  • The situation, thanks to Martinez's stoutness, had reached a deadlock.

  • I could more readily understand why there had been so long a deadlock on the western front.

    Kitchener's Mob James Norman Hall
British Dictionary definitions for deadlock


a state of affairs in which further action between two opposing forces is impossible; stalemate
a tie between opposite sides in a contest
a lock having a bolt that can be opened only with a key
to bring or come to a deadlock
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
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Word Origin and History for deadlock

"complete standstill," from dead (adj.), in its emphatic use, + lock (n.). First attested 1779 in Sheridan's play "The Critic."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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deadlock in Technology
parallel, programming
A situation where two or more processes are unable to proceed because each is waiting for one of the others to do something.
A common example is a program waiting for output from a server while the server is waiting for more input from the controlling program before outputting anything. It is reported that this particular flavour of deadlock is sometimes called a "starvation deadlock", though the term "starvation" is more properly used for situations where a program can never run simply because it never gets high enough priority.
Another common flavour is "constipation", in which each process is trying to send stuff to the other but all buffers are full because nobody is reading anything). See deadly embrace.
Another example, common in database programming, is two processes that are sharing some resource (e.g. read access to a table) but then both decide to wait for exclusive (e.g. write) access.
The term "deadly embrace" is mostly synonymous, though usually used only when exactly two processes are involved. This is the more popular term in Europe, while deadlock predominates in the United States.
Compare: livelock. See also safety property, liveness property.
[Jargon File]
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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