verb fore·stall \ fȯr-ˈstȯl \
Updated on: 17 Mar 2018

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




play \fȯr-ˈstȯl-mənt\ noun

Examples of forestall in a Sentence

  1. Negotiations failed to forestall the conflict.

  2. His comments were meant to forestall criticism of his proposal.

  3. He forestalled critics by offering a defense of the project.

Recent Examples of forestall from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of forestall

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

FORESTALL Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of forestall for English Language Learners

  • : 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

FORESTALL Defined for Kids


verb fore·stall \ fȯr-ˈstȯl \

Definition of forestall for Students

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

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