AskDefine | Define blockade

Dictionary Definition



1 a war measure that isolates some area of importance to the enemy [syn: encirclement]
2 prevents access or progress


1 hinder or prevent the progress or accomplishment of; "His brother blocked him at every turn" [syn: obstruct, block, hinder, stymie, stymy, embarrass]
2 render unsuitable for passage; "block the way"; "barricade the streets"; "stop the busy road" [syn: barricade, block, stop, block off, block up, bar]
3 obstruct access to [syn: block off]
4 impose a blockade on [syn: seal off]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Blockade





  1. The isolation of something, especially a port, in order to prevent commerce and traffic in or out.
  2. The ships or other forces used to effect the blockade.


the isolation of something


  1. To create a blockade against.


Extensive Definition

A blockade is any effort to prevent supplies, troops, information or aid from reaching an opposing force. Blockades are the cornerstone to nearly all military campaigns and the tool of choice for economic warfare on an opposing nation. The International Criminal Court plans to include blockades against coasts and ports in its list of acts of war in 2009.
Blockades can take any number of forms from a simple garrison of troops along a main roadway to utilizing dozens or hundreds of surface combatant ships in securing a harbor, denying its use to the enemy, and even in cutting off or jamming broadcast signals from radio or television. As a military operation, blockades have been known to be the deciding factor in winning or losing a war.
Blockades are planned around four general rules:
  • Value of thing to become blockaded
  • Blockading strength is equal to or greater than the opposing force
  • Suitability of terrain to aid in the blockade
  • Willpower to maintain the blockade
First, the value of the item being blockaded must warrant the need to blockade. For example, during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the items to be blockaded (or "quarantined", the more legally- and politically-neutral term selected by President John F. Kennedy) were medium-range missiles, capable of delivering nuclear weaponry, bound for Cuba. The need for the blockade was high because of the value of the missiles as a military threat against the United States.
Second, the strength of the blockading force must be equal to or greater in strength than the opposition. The blockade is only successful if the 'thing' is prevented from reaching its receiver. Again the Cuban blockade illustration shows that the United States put to sea a number of warships to inspect and blockade the waters around Cuba. This show of strength showed the U.S. Navy forces were much larger and stronger in the area compared to their Soviet Navy counterparts.
Third, in the case of land blockades, choosing suitable terrain. Knowing where the force will be travelling through will help the blockader in choosing territory to aid them: for example, forcing a garrison between a high mountain pass in order to bottleneck the opposing force.
Fourth, willpower to maintain a blockade. The success of a blockade is based almost entirely on the will of the people to maintain it. The Cuban blockade is an example of maintaining willpower to block the missiles from reaching Cuba despite the risk of starting a world wide nuclear war.


Historical blockades

Historical blockades include:
blockade in Bulgarian: Блокада
blockade in Czech: Blokáda
blockade in German: Blockade (Militär)
blockade in Estonian: Blokaad
blockade in Spanish: Bloqueo (estrategia)
blockade in French: Blocus
blockade in Indonesian: Blokade
blockade in Japanese: 封鎖
blockade in Norwegian: Blokade
blockade in Simple English: Blockade
blockade in Slovenian: Blokada

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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