fore·​stall | \ fȯr-ˈstȯl How to pronounce forestall (audio) \
forestalled; forestalling; forestalls

Definition of forestall

transitive verb

1 : to exclude, hinder, or prevent (something) by prior occupation or measures Negotiations failed to forestall the conflict.
2 : to get ahead of (something) : anticipate detailed explanations intended to forestall questions
3 : to prevent the normal trading in (something) by buying or diverting goods or by persuading people to raise prices forestalling the wheat harvest and selling it at three times its cost …— George Bernard Shaw
4 archaic : intercept … he sprang like a cat to the top of the cabin and ran aft. But his pursuers forestalling him, he doubled back across the cabin …— Jack London
5 obsolete : obstruct, beset

Other Words from forestall

forestaller noun
forestallment \ fȯr-​ˈstȯl-​mənt How to pronounce forestall (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for forestall

prevent, anticipate, forestall mean to deal with beforehand. prevent implies taking advance measures against something possible or probable. measures taken to prevent leaks anticipate may imply merely getting ahead of another by being a precursor or forerunner or it may imply checking another's intention by acting first. anticipated the question by making a statement forestall implies a getting ahead so as to stop or interrupt something in its course. hoped to forestall the sale

Examples of forestall in a Sentence

Negotiations failed to forestall the conflict. His comments were meant to forestall criticism of his proposal. He forestalled critics by offering a defense of the project.
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Recent Examples on the Web In late January 2012, the council passed a new map with 41 votes, the bare minimum to forestall a referendum by leaving fewer than 10 aldermen to back an alternative. Gregory Pratt,, 1 Dec. 2021 After all, years of careful consensus-building around the national history standards did nothing to forestall that eruption. New York Times, 9 Nov. 2021 How much will that help to forestall the threat of famine? Washington Post, 15 Dec. 2021 Concerned by the ongoing drought in the Southwest and dropping water levels in Lake Mead, Gila River and other Arizona tribes with river allocations have turned to conservation protocols to forestall more drastic shortage declarations. Debra Utacia Krol, The Arizona Republic, 13 Dec. 2021 The oil crisis caused the U.S., Japan and 15 other advanced countries to form the International Energy Agency in 1974 to recommend policies that would forestall such events in the future. Scott L. Montgomery, The Conversation, 24 Nov. 2021 The shots may help forestall at least some infections, particularly in older adults and those with certain health conditions. New York Times, 19 Nov. 2021 That misconceived creation was designed with no thought given to visitors with disabilities; now, it’s governed by rules designed to forestall more suicides. Justin Davidson, Curbed, 1 June 2021 To forestall another round of violence in the city after the Rittenhouse verdict, Mr. Evers has put 500 National Guard troops on active duty. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 17 Nov. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'forestall.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of forestall

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for forestall

Middle English, from forstall act of waylaying, from Old English foresteall, from fore- + steall position, stall

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Time Traveler for forestall

Time Traveler

The first known use of forestall was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

7 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Forestall.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for forestall



English Language Learners Definition of forestall

: to stop (something) from happening or to cause (something) to happen at a later time
: to act before (someone else) in order to prevent something


fore·​stall | \ fȯr-ˈstȯl How to pronounce forestall (audio) \
forestalled; forestalling

Kids Definition of forestall

: to keep out, interfere with, or prevent by steps taken in advance forestalling problems

More from Merriam-Webster on forestall

Nglish: Translation of forestall for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of forestall for Arabic Speakers


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