in·​ter·​vene | \ ˌin-tər-ˈvēn How to pronounce intervene (audio) \
intervened; intervening

Definition of intervene

intransitive verb

1 : to occur, fall, or come between points of time or events only six months intervened between their marriage and divorce
2a : to interfere with the outcome or course especially of a condition or process (as to prevent harm or improve functioning)
b : to come in or between by way of hindrance or modification intervene to stop a fight
3 : to enter or appear as an irrelevant or extraneous feature or circumstance it's business as usual until a crisis intervenes
4 : to occur or lie between two things
5a : to become a third party to a legal proceeding begun by others for the protection of an alleged interest
b : to interfere usually by force or threat of force in another nation's internal affairs especially to compel or prevent an action

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Choose the Right Synonym for intervene

interpose, interfere, intervene, mediate, intercede mean to come or go between. interpose often implies no more than this. interposed herself between him and the door interfere implies hindering. noise interfered with my concentration intervene may imply an occurring in space or time between two things or a stepping in to stop a conflict. quarreled until the manager intervened mediate implies intervening between hostile factions. mediated between the parties intercede implies acting for an offender in begging mercy or forgiveness. interceded on our behalf

Examples of intervene in a Sentence

Twenty years intervened between their first and last meetings. The prisoner asked me to intervene with the authorities on his behalf. The military had to intervene to restore order. We will leave on time unless some crisis intervenes.
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Recent Examples on the Web Only in 2009, spurred by newspaper reports, did local officials intervene and liberate the men. New York Times, "As the Pandemic Took Lives, It Also Stole Hopes," 30 Dec. 2020 Did the school intervene as soon as a student started falling off track? Alia Wong, USA TODAY, "Scores of students are getting F's. What's the point of failing them during COVID-19?," 24 Dec. 2020 Why didn’t Trump intervene before the spending bill got to his desk? John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "Trump Directs His Wrecking Ball at the COVID-19 Relief Bill and Mitch McConnell," 23 Dec. 2020 As the head of Poland’s Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, Piotr Cywiński and his staff rarely intervene in matters that don’t concern their imposing institution. Cnaan Liphshiz,, "Auschwitz museum director speaks out about Yad Vashem controversy," 21 Dec. 2020 But the country could intervene if the Polisario Front is actively targeted. Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post, "U.S. recognition of Morocco’s claim over disputed region threatens more tension," 11 Dec. 2020 In one case, corrections officers allegedly did not intervene until 45 minutes after they were made aware of a prisoner's attempts at self harm. Jordan Freiman, CBS News, "Justice Department says mental health policies at Massachusetts prisons violate Constitution," 17 Nov. 2020 Could former American presidents intervene to help Trump grasp reality of election results? Alison Medley, Chron, "Department of Homeland Security calls this year's election 'most secure in American history'," 13 Nov. 2020 Other prisoners and an officer who works at Lake CI told the Miami Herald that Howell was beaten by a corrections officer while handcuffed, as two other officers watched but did not intervene. Grace Toohey,, "Lake Correctional officer killed inmate by ‘blunt force trauma,' indictment says," 10 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intervene.' 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 intervene

1587, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for intervene

Latin intervenire to come between, from inter- + venire to come — more at come

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Time Traveler for intervene

Time Traveler

The first known use of intervene was in 1587

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Statistics for intervene

Last Updated

6 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Intervene.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for intervene


How to pronounce intervene (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of intervene

: to come or occur between two times or events
: to become involved in something (such as a conflict) in order to have an influence on what happens
: to happen as an unrelated event that causes a delay or problem


in·​ter·​vene | \ ˌin-tər-ˈvēn How to pronounce intervene (audio) \
intervened; intervening

Kids Definition of intervene

1 : to come or occur between events, places, or points of time One week intervened between games.
2 : to interfere with something so as to stop, settle, or change I intervened in their quarrel.
in·​ter·​vene | \ ˌin-tər-ˈvēn How to pronounce intervene (audio) \
intervened; intervening

Legal Definition of intervene

1 : to occur, fall, or come between points of time or events may be held liable even though other independent agencies intervene between his negligence and the ultimate resultHooks Superx, Inc. v. McLaughlin, 642 N.E.2d 514 (1994)
2a : to come in or between by way of hindrance or modification intervene to stop a fight
b : to become a party to a legal proceeding begun by others in order to protect an alleged interest in the subject matter of the proceeding the Commissioner of Internal Revenue was granted leave to intervene— P. A. Freund — compare implead, interplead, join

Other Words from intervene

intervenor \ -​ˈvē-​nər, -​ˌnȯr How to pronounce intervene (audio) \ noun

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Comments on intervene

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