fore·​stall | \fȯr-ˈstȯl \
forestalled; forestalling; forestalls

Definition of forestall 

transitive verb

1 : to prevent the normal trading in by buying or diverting goods or by persuading persons to raise prices forestalling the wheat harvest and selling it at three times its cost— G. B. Shaw

2 archaic : intercept

3 obsolete : obstruct, beset

4 : to exclude, hinder, or prevent by prior occupation or measures Negotiations failed to forestall the conflict.

5 : to get ahead of : anticipate detailed explanations intended to forestall questions

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Other Words from forestall

forestaller noun
forestallment \ fȯr-​ˈstȯl-​mənt \ 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

The only way for the chancellor to forestall a unilateral decision by her minister would be to fire him. Patrick Donahue,, "Five Ways Merkel’s Coalition Crisis Could Blow Up or Blow Over," 15 June 2018 But the overwhelming Republican support for Ryan’s decision — or, at least, for forestalling an investigation into its cause — suggests that the intersection of faith and politics is increasingly narrow. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "Did Paul Ryan fire the House chaplain for criticizing tax cuts?," 27 Apr. 2018 Mr Trudeau is also defending NAFTA’s dispute-settlement rules while trying to roll back the steel and aluminium tariffs and forestall new ones on vehicles. The Economist, "Donald Trump stomps on Canada’s economy," 14 June 2018 Some, like Mnuchin, have focused on a potential compromise deal that would require China to buy huge amounts of U.S. products while still forestalling the possibility of a trade war. San Antonio Express-News, "White House moves ahead with tough trade measures on China," 29 May 2018 But Newsom also is taking nothing for granted, forestalling conversations about his future until the present race is concluded. Scott Wilson, Washington Post, "California’s race for governor has become a referendum on resistance," 3 June 2018 The two groups have been fighting tooth and nail for the past year, with the free-market faction succeeding until now in forestalling an action conservatives warn could have severe economic consequences. Molly Ball, Time, "President Trump's Tariffs Were His First Big Break With the GOP," 8 Mar. 2018 That prompted Ryan and GOP leaders to convene negotiations aimed at writing a consensus Republican bill that could pass the House to forestall passage of more liberal bipartisan bills that would pass with mostly Democratic votes. Anchorage Daily News, "GOP immigration bills backed by Trump appear headed for defeat," 21 June 2018 That suggests the Fed is less likely to accelerate rate hikes preemptively to forestall potentially faster price gains. Christopher A. Rugaber,, "Fed chair signals gradual rate hikes in tame inflation era," 20 June 2018

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

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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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Statistics for forestall

Last Updated

26 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for forestall

The first known use of forestall was before the 12th century

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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 \
forestalled; forestalling

Kids Definition of forestall

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

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Comments on forestall

What made you want to look up forestall? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

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