Follow me:

English Football Phrase: Break the deadlock

On this football language post for learners of English, we look at the phrase ‘break the deadlock‘ which is used when talking about draws in football.  You can read a transcript for this post below, while you can also check out our glossary of footballing phrases here and visit our site to access all our previous posts and podcasts. If you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at

Embed from Getty Images

This week’s English for football phrase is ‘to break the deadlock‘. The noun deadlock is a combination of ‘dead‘ and ‘lock‘ – it describes a lock in a door that has no spring and remains locked until you move it with a key. As long ago as the 18th century it was used to talk about a dispute or argument when it is impossible to find a solution. In sport a ‘deadlock‘ means a drawn game, a tie, when both sides have the same score (in football, usually 0-0). ‘To break the deadlock‘ means, therefore, to stop the stalemate, the situation where there is no movement, or no score, and to make a breakthrough, and in football, to take the lead. It is usually used with a player’s name or a team as the subject. To break the deadlock.

  • Here is an example from 2001 in The Observer (A UK Sunday newspaper): ‘A minute later, Larsson crashed a right-foot effort over the bar, and it seemed only a matter of time before Celtic broke the deadlock.’
  • Pernille Harder breaks deadlock for Denmark to edge past Finland (Guardian 2022 July 12)

Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here. If you have any suggestions, contact us at

Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football
Hosted by

I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
Google | Facebook | Twitter | Mail | Website

Join the discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More from this show

Football Language Podcast

Football Language Podcast: Heavy

The Learn English Through Football podcast explains the language of football: This week, we look at the word 'heavy' and its use in...