holding pattern

noun
1.
a traffic pattern for aircraft at a specified location (holding point) where they are ordered to remain until permitted to land or proceed.
2.
a state or period in which no progress or change is made or planned.

Origin:
1950–55

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
holding pattern
 
n
the oval or circular path of an aircraft flying around an airport awaiting permission to land

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Example sentences
Hotels and other facilities are waiting to book football weekends, leaving fall brides in a holding pattern.
Nothing invites mediocrity, complacency and non-think more than colleagues that are in a holding pattern over our campus.
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