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

But his advisers are deeply divided over the best course and some, like Mnuchin, have focused on a potential compromise deal that would require China to buy huge amounts of American products while still forestalling the possibility of a trade war. Ana Swanson,, "Trump moves ahead with tough trade measures on China," 29 May 2018 Now let’s pause here to forestall a couple of possible objections. David Roberts, Vox, "Clean energy technologies threaten to overwhelm the grid. Here’s how it can adapt.," 30 Nov. 2018 Last December Mrs May agreed that Northern Ireland would retain regulatory and customs alignment with the EU unless another way could be found to forestall a hard border with Ireland. The Economist, "The EU digests Britain’s new Brexit plan," 11 July 2018 That forced Ryan and GOP leaders to convene negotiations aimed at writing a consensus Republican bill that could pass the House in order to forestall passage of more liberal bipartisan bills that would pass with mostly Democratic votes. Mike Debonis, Washington Post, "Ryan and Meadows clash on House floor, leaving immigration bills on thin ice," 20 June 2018 None of these deficiencies were enough to forestall the Navy's order, though. Eric Tegler, Popular Mechanics, "Why the F/A-18 Is Such a Badass Plane," 29 Dec. 2016 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

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

19 Jan 2019

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).


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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