Seize-up meaning

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

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

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(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.

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(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.

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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