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This is a term I read recently, but I didn't understand what it meant. I can't remember the exact context except that it had nothing whatever to do with Mexico.

Edit: ElendilTheTall suggests this might be "Mexican Standoff". Which it could be, I suppose. So could anyone explain what either of these things are?

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Do you mean 'Mexican Standoff'? – user3444 Jan 19 '11 at 12:46
@ElendilTheTall, perhaps I do. Answer if you like; I'll edit the question. – Brian Hooper Jan 19 '11 at 13:18
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Did you try Google? I searched for "define Mexican Standoff" and the first result, as well as many that followed, said "a situation in which no one can emerge as a clear winner".

Mexican standoff has more in-depth etymology of the expression.

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Hey Anderson, you also make many easily googable questions yourself, don't you? Nothing against these questions, I'm just wondering if you were complaining. – Ivo Rossi Jan 19 '11 at 13:56
I wasn't complaining, actually. I was citing the source for my answer. I had a series of question regarding the etymology of many sexual phrases and expressions, which resulted in yours truly put in the penalty box for 3 days. Still unsure if the content itself or because it was easily google-able were the prime motivations. – Anderson Silva Jan 19 '11 at 13:57
I didn't try googling "Mexican Standoff"; the phrase I heard was "Mexican Ultimatum". For the time being, we are assuming the meaning is the same. Thank you for your answer. – Brian Hooper Jan 19 '11 at 20:13
"In Mexico, we just call this a standoff." – MT_Head May 17 '11 at 8:09

Well, as far as I know there is no such thing as a 'Mexican ultimatum'.

A Mexican standoff is a fraught situation of 'stalemate'. The classic image is of a ring of gunfighters, all with pistols drawn, with none of them wanting to start shooting. See Anderson Silva's link for more in-depth info.

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While written rather snarky, tvtropes' article gives a bit more insight and criticizes this trope:

A stalemate where everyone has a weapon pointed at someone else. All the threats are equally balanced to ensure a Mutual Disadvantage;


By the time your enemy realizes they've been shot, the bullet will have exited the back of their head, taking their motor cortex (and thus the capacity to shoot back) with it. However, that wouldn't be nearly as tense and exciting.

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