fore·​stall | \ fȯr-ˈstȯl How to pronounce forestall (audio) \
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 How to pronounce forestallment (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 The largest companies in the gig economy have been trying unsuccessfully since last year to secure concessions that would forestall a reclassification of their workers. Josh Eidelson, Fortune, "New Labor Law Passed by California Senate Would Transform the Gig Economy—And Could Cost Uber $500 Million a Year," 11 Sep. 2019 Russia and Turkey reached an agreement in September to create a demilitarized buffer zone in Idlib to forestall a Syrian regime offensive to recapture the northwest province. Raja Abdulrahim, WSJ, "Syrian, Russian Airstrikes Target Rebels in Last Stronghold," 14 Mar. 2019 Others have become increasingly focused on trying to calm financial markets and forestall any further economic fallout in the U.S. where Trump’s tariffs and the uncertainty surrounding the trade war are being blamed for a slowdown in manufacturing. Josh Wingrove, Fortune, "China and the U.S. Have Agreed on the First Face-to-Face Trade Talks Since July. No One Expects a Breakthrough," 5 Sep. 2019 His gambit backfired spectacularly as other parties negotiated to form a majority and forestall his rise. Washington Post, "Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte wins backing to form a new government — this time, without the far right," 30 Aug. 2019 But while the alliance may forestall elections for now, the two parties face an uphill battle to successfully govern together. NBC News, "Salvini's power grab backfires as Italy inches toward new government," 29 Aug. 2019 In an effort to cut carbon emissions and forestall the climate crisis, California legislators are pushing a new law aimed at helping limit deforestation around the globe. Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, "Proposed California Law Would Punish Companies for Failing to Limit Harm to the Planet’s Forests," 7 Aug. 2019 Wrongly suspected of stealing Zeus’s lightning bolt, Percy journeys to the underworld, intent on getting the bolt back and forestalling a war between the Greek gods., "The Ticket: What’s happening in the local arts world," 16 July 2019 To forestall imminent budget crisis, party leaders agreed to pile on to the nation’s $1 trillion deficit by adding another $1.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. Rebecca U. Thorpe, The Conversation, "One budget line Congress can agree on: Spending billions on the US military," 14 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for forestall

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for forestall

Last Updated

26 Oct 2019

Cite this Entry

“Forestall.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 November 2019.

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More Definitions for forestall


How to pronounce forestall (audio)

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

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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).


not agreeing with established beliefs

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