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

  • transitive verb To move a piece placing (an opponent's king) under threat of being taken on the next move with no way of escape or defense possible.
  • transitive verb To defeat completely.
  • noun A move in chess that checkmates an opponent's king.
  • noun The position or condition of a checkmated king.
  • noun An utter defeat.
  • interjection Used to declare the checkmate of an opponent's king in chess.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In chess, originally, an exclamatory sentence, literally, ′ the king is dead′ : said of the opponent's king when he is in check, and cannot be released from it; hence, the position of being unable to escape from a check.
  • noun Hence Figuratively, defeat; overthrow.
  • In chess, to put in check (an opponent's king), so that he cannot be released. See checkmate, n., 1.
  • Figuratively, to defeat; thwart; frustrate; baffle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The position in the game of chess when a king is in check and cannot be released, -- which ends the game.
  • noun A complete check; utter defeat or overthrow.
  • transitive verb (Chess) To check (an adversary's king) in such a manner that escape in impossible; to defeat (an adversary) by putting his king in check from which there is no escape.
  • transitive verb To defeat completely; to terminate; to thwart.

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

  • interjection chess Word called out by the victor when making the conclusive move.
  • noun The conclusive victory in a game of chess that occurs when an opponent's king is threatened with unavoidable capture.
  • noun figuratively, by extension Any situation that has no obvious escape and involves some personal loss.
  • verb transitive, chess To put the king of an opponent into checkmate.
  • verb transitive, by extension To lead to a situation that has no obvious escape without some personal loss.

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

  • verb place an opponent's king under an attack from which it cannot escape and thus ending the game
  • noun a chess move constituting an inescapable and indefensible attack on the opponent's king
  • noun complete victory


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English chekmat, from Old French eschec mat, from Arabic šāh māt, the king is dead : šāh, king (from Persian shāh; see shah) + māt, died (from earlier māta, to die; see mwt in Semitic roots).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English chekmat, from Old French eschec mat, from Persian شاه مات (shah mat), the king is ambushed or the king is conquered


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word checkmate.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Persian phrase "Shah Mat", which means "the king is dead".

    May 7, 2008