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 President Trump had previously floated the possibility of intervening in the case against Meng as part of trade negotiations with China. Klint Finley, Wired, "The US Hits Huawei With New Charges of Trade Secret Theft," 13 Feb. 2020 Her practice as a conservator centers on the ethics of intervening physically with art objects. Steven Litt, cleveland, "Cleveland Museum of Art appoints Sarah Scaturro of Met Museum’s Costume Institute as chief conservator," 9 Feb. 2020 Sweden’s economy is more than twice as big, and Stockholm doesn’t have a record of intervening in foreign takeovers. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, "The Winners From Washington’s War on Huawei," 8 Feb. 2020 In the intervening period, a major meeting of the Hubei provincial party was held in the city, and more than 40,000 families were invited to attend a banquet in an attempt to set a world record. James Griffiths, CNN, "Wuhan is the latest crisis to face China's Xi, and it's exposing major flaws in his model of control," 23 Jan. 2020 The coal industry and lobby have mounted a strong front against any moves that would threaten coal, including intervening in rate cases before the IURC in which utilities are looking to other fuel sources. Sarah Bowman, Indianapolis Star, "Analysts say new 'coal bailout' could hike customer bills and keep coal plants running," 21 Jan. 2020 The victim, who sometimes helped the clerk clean the store, approached them from the backroom and tried to intervene when he was fatally shot. Gwendolyn Wu, Houston Chronicle, "Bystander shot to death at southwest Houston convenience store," 12 Jan. 2020 Illinois Municipal League Executive Director Brad Cole contends the amendment would shut out municipal governments from intervening in benefit allocation proceedings at the local level. Jamie Munks,, "Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan to consolidate 650 local police and fire pensions into two statewide funds hits a snag," 12 Nov. 2019 The officer then fired another two shots as two other protesters tried to intervene. Tripti Lahiri, Quartz, "Hong Kong police shoot more protesters in a city still grieving a protest death," 10 Nov. 2019

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

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Intervene.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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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 intervenor (audio) \ noun

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