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
2 : to enter or appear as an irrelevant or extraneous feature or circumstance it's business as usual until a crisis intervenes
3a : to come in or between by way of hindrance or modification intervene to stop a fight
b : to interfere with the outcome or course especially of a condition or process (as to prevent harm or improve functioning)
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

Pebble opponents have been leaning on Alaska’s congressional delegation — and namely Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski — to intervene in the process. Becky Bohrer, Anchorage Daily News, "Regional EPA official cites concerns with Pebble mine draft environmental review," 2 July 2019 The court had declined to intervene in similar cases five times before, most recently last year, when the justices refused to decide partisan gerrymandering challenges in Wisconsin and Maryland. USA TODAY, "Supreme Court allows partisan election maps, gerrymandering in North Carolina, Maryland," 27 June 2019 In his lawsuit, Beshear argues that the cabinet has no standing to intervene in the teacher sickouts because there is no labor dispute between a public employer and its employees. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "Andy Beshear scores win in lawsuit over Bevin administration's teacher-sickout inquiry," 27 June 2019 Police had been called to the home previously to intervene in a domestic dispute, sources said, but no charges were filed. Chris Harris,, "Man Accused of Killing N.Y.C. Mom in National Guard and Drowning Their 2 Young Children," 24 June 2019 The stop drew thousands and required police to intervene in an altercation that resulted in a 15-year-old girl being pepper-sprayed. Lawrence Andrea, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton haven't paid back Wisconsin taxpayers $75K for 2016 events," 18 June 2019 In January, Tri-State filed a complaint in Adams County District Court, asking the court to determine whether the Colorado Public Utilities Commission has the authority to intervene in its dispute with Delta-Montrose. Judith Kohler, The Denver Post, "Tri-State looking at asking federal energy agency to set its electric rates," 14 June 2019 YouTube’s latest attempt to curb hate speech is also a change in policy for a company that has been cautious to intervene in disputes about content. Suhauna Hussain,, "Amid harassment complaints, YouTube says it will remove more white supremacist content," 5 June 2019 The courts have been wise not to intervene in partisan gerrymandering so far. The Christian Science Monitor, "The high court’s hint on partisan gerrymandering," 18 June 2018

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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Statistics for intervene

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for intervene

The first known use of intervene was in 1587

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More Definitions for intervene



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.


intransitive verb
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 intervenor (audio) \ noun

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Comments on intervene

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


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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