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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web The decision by the justices not to intervene has implications for thousands of similar lawsuits against the company Bayer. Ann E. Marimow, Washington Post, 21 June 2022 Support from Black leaders While the ACLU didn't intervene, the Black community was helpful, with Sheffield putting them in touch with the prosecutor's office and others. Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, 16 June 2022 That leaves in place a lower court ruling in favor of the Biden administration that the states could not intervene. Jessica Gresko, ajc, 15 June 2022 That’s because these agencies did not intervene as fast during other threats. Chris Smith, BGR, 15 June 2022 The decision left in place a lower court ruling that Arizona could not intervene. USA TODAY, 15 June 2022 Their whole idea was to actually not intervene at all, but to somehow create a situation where what happens in real therapy and good therapy can be captured. Kovie Biakolo, ELLE, 11 June 2022 In Buffalo, the armed guard who was at that grocery store confronted the shooter, but was killed, in Parkland, Florida, there was an armed officer on site who did not intervene. CBS News, 29 May 2022 Defense and political analysts generally agree that China’s military, which dwarfs Taiwan’s, could invade and eventually take control, especially if the U.S. and other powers don’t intervene. Josh Chin, WSJ, 23 May 2022 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of intervene was in 1587

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Last Updated

23 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Intervene.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for intervene


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 intervene (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on intervene

Nglish: Translation of intervene for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of intervene for Arabic Speakers


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