from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A traffic jam in which no vehicular movement is possible, especially one caused by the blockage of key intersections within a grid of streets.
  • noun A complete lack of movement or progress resulting in a backup or stagnation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A condition of total, interlocking traffic congestion on the streets or highways of a crowded city, in which no one can move because everyone is in someone else's way.
  • noun On a smaller scale: the situation in which cars enter a signal-controlled intersection too late during the green light cycle, and are unable to clear the intersection (due to congestion in the next block) when the light turns red, thus blocking the cross traffic when it's their turn to go. Repeated at enough intersections, this phenomenon can lead to citywide gridlock.
  • noun Figuratively and by extension, any paralysis of a complex system due to severe congestion, conflict, or deadlock.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a traffic jam so bad that no movement is possible


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

grid + lock


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  • "America's "Futurama" is defunct. The famous walk-through diorama of a car-and-suburb world, imagineered by Norman Bel Geddes for General Motors at the 1939 New York World's Fair, has weathered into a dreary emblem of our national backwardness. While GM bleeds to death on a Detroit street corner, the steel-and-concrete Interstate landscape built in the 1950s and 1960s is rapidly decaying into this century's equivalent of Victorian rubble.

    As we wait in potholed gridlock for the next highway bridge to collapse, the French, the Japanese, and now the Spanish blissfully speed by us on their sci-fi trains. Within the next year or two, Spain's high-speed rail network will become the world's largest, with plans to cap construction in 2020 at an incredible 6,000 miles of fast track. Meanwhile China has launched its first 200 mile-per-hour prototype, and Saudi Arabia and Argentina are proceeding with the construction of their own state-of-the-art systems. Of the larger rich, industrial countries, only the United States has yet to build a single mile of what constitutes the new global standard of transportation."

    - Mike Davis, 'Why Obama's Futurama Can Wait', 18 Nov 2008.

    November 19, 2008