What Does To Bring to a Standstill Mean?

Bring Something to a Standstill Meaning

Definition: To cause something to stop.

When you bring something to a standstill, you stop it. This phrase is most commonly used when describing moving objects, such as cars in traffic. If traffic is brought to a standstill, there are too many cars on the road for them to move freely.

It is also possible to bring non-moving items to a standstill. For example, if you become distracted and are no longer thinking about the task at hand, you have brought that task to a standstill.

Origin of To Bring Something to a Standstill

The word standstill came into use in the late 1600s and early 1700s. It is a combination of the two words in the verb phrase stand still. To stand still is to stop doing something, and the noun standstill describes a situation when all action has stopped.

meaning of bring to a standstillThe phrase can also be replaced by the phrase “to bring to a stand” or “to bring to a stop,” but it is more common to say “to bring to a standstill.”

Examples of To Bring Something to a Standstill

A parade could come to a standstill if traffic blocks the roads and prevents the floats from going through the roads effectively. Groups of traffic that are slowed or stopped are often described using this phrase.

expression bring to a stopA person could be brought to a standstill as well, both physically and mentally. If a person is an active gymnast but then suffers a knee injury, her gymnastics career will be brought to a standstill. She will have to stop practicing for a substantial period of time.

Thoughts and beliefs may also come to a standstill. If two people are arguing, and then they reach a point at which neither can outwit the other, their argument will come to a standstill or a pause. However, if one can convince the other of the rightness of his side of the argument, his way of thinking keeps going on while the other’s thoughts are brought to a standstill

More Examples

  • Construction at the Gulfgate site was nearly brought to a standstill because the immigrant workers had fled, likely after hearing rumors of government immigration raids. –Houston Chronicle
  • The train was brought to a standstill and the crew lost no time in placing the veteran in the rear coach, after which the train proceeded to the local station. –Indianapolis Star


The phrase to bring something to a standstill is to stop it.