Seize-up Definition


(figuratively) To stop functioning; to come to a halt.

Iceland's foreign currency market has seized up after the three largest banks collapsed.

(of muscles) To stiffen or become tight and difficult to move.

It was hard to write as my fingers had seized up with the cold weather.
(of a machine) To stop working suddenly, and become impossible to start again.
My car seized up this morning. So I had to catch the bus.

Origin of Seize-up

  • The term originates c. 1870 referring to a machine which jammed up because of excessive heat or friction. It has been used figuratively since c. 1950.

    From Wiktionary

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