1. Also called mate. Chess.
    1. an act or instance of maneuvering the opponent’s king into a check from which it cannot escape, thus bringing the game to a victorious conclusion.
    2. the position of the pieces when a king is checkmated.
  2. a complete check; defeat: His efforts to escape met with a checkmate.

verb (used with object), check·mat·ed, check·mat·ing.

  1. Chess. to maneuver (an opponent’s king) into a check from which it cannot escape; mate.
  2. to check completely; defeat: Napoleon was checkmated at Waterloo.


  1. Chess. (used by a player to announce that he or she has put the opponent’s king into inextricable check.)


  1. chess
    1. the winning position in which an opponent’s king is under attack and unable to escape
    2. the move by which this position is achieved
  2. utter defeat

verb (tr)

  1. chess to place (an opponent’s king) in checkmate
  2. to thwart or render powerless


  1. chess a call made when placing an opponent’s king in checkmate

mid-14c., from Old French eschec mat (Modern French échec et mat), which (with Spanish jaque y mate, Italian scacco-matto) is from Arabic shah mat “the king died” (see check (n.1)), which according to Barnhart is a misinterpretation of Persian mat “be astonished” as mata “to die,” mat “he is dead.” Hence Persian shah mat, if it is the ultimate source of the word, would be literally “the king is left helpless, the king is stumped.”


late 14c.; see checkmate (n.). Related: Checkmated; checkmating.

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