in·​ter·​ven·​tion ˌin-tər-ˈven(t)-shən How to pronounce intervention (audio)
plural interventions
: the act or an instance of intervening
the intervention of divine providence
: such as
: the act of interfering with the outcome or course especially of a condition or process (as to prevent harm or improve functioning)
educational intervention
surgical interventions for cardiovascular disease
: the interference of a country in the affairs of another country for the purpose of compelling it to do or forbear doing certain acts
… obscures Eisenhower's decisive personal role in converting the CIA from an intelligence agency into an instrument for American intervention around the world.Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
: an occurrence in which a person with a problem (such as a drug addiction) is confronted by a group (as of friends or family members) whose purpose is to compel the person to acknowledge and deal with the problem
stage/mount an intervention
Coaching colleagues and former players pleaded with him to reengage with the game, to no avail, until 1989, when a number of them prepared to stage an intervention.Alexander Wolff
interventional adjective
interventional cardiology

Examples of intervention in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Brene Brown The Antidote Self-compassion is an effective intervention to reduce the severity of maladaptive affective behaviors in response to difficult everyday situations and stressful events that can facilitate recovery from adversity. Colleen Reilly, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024 What would save it is corporate intervention, a move that in the end still comes down to profit for that company and it alone. Megan Farokhmanesh, WIRED, 12 Feb. 2024 She was briefly arrested for being a Nazi collaborator, but promptly released, possibly due to Churchill’s own intervention. Radhika Seth, Vogue, 9 Feb. 2024 The maison partners with organic, small-scale growers in Alsace and elsewhere in France, while the wines are certified biodynamic and made with minimal intervention in the winemaking. Dave McIntyre, Washington Post, 8 Feb. 2024 Thanks to the intervention of Roberts and others like her, conditions in the camp improved. Sue Eisenfeld, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 Feb. 2024 But an intervention by the court — especially one that would uphold the result — could risk being seen as a political act. Charlie Savage, New York Times, 6 Feb. 2024 Community interventions, such as violence intervention programs, have been shown to be effective as well, but not all states fund them and there is a need for a standardized approach to providing these, as well as other interventions, across the country. Amanda Joy Calhoun, Md, Parents, 4 Feb. 2024 In the late 2010s, two randomized studies of DBS for treatment-resistant depression, enrolling a total of more than a hundred participants, found no significant differences in health outcomes between intervention and control groups. Jyoti Madhusoodanan, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'intervention.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of intervention was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near intervention

Cite this Entry

“Intervention.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Medical Definition


in·​ter·​ven·​tion ˌint-ər-ˈven-chən How to pronounce intervention (audio)
: the act or fact or a means of interfering with the outcome or course especially of a condition or process (as to prevent harm or improve functioning)
Many patients with a flail mitral leaflet present with acute severe mitral regurgitation and pulmonary edema, requiring prompt surgical intervention.Catherine M. Otto, The Journal of the American Medical Association
Another helpful postpartum intervention is the inexpensive, uterine-contracting drug misoprostol, which has been shown by research in India to prevent up to half of all postpartum hemorrhaging if administered within a few minutes after delivery.Judith F. Helzner, Ms. Magazine
intervene intransitive verb
intervened; intervening
Chemoprevention is the attempt to use natural and synthetic compounds to intervene in the early precancerous stages of carcinogenesis, before invasive disease begins. Peter Greenwald, Scientific American
interventional adjective
Interventional radiologists perform surgery guided by X-ray images to stop bleeding from the intestines, prevent some strokes and treat other problems. Lawrence K. Altman, The New York Times
… these agents are given while preparations for thrombolytic therapy or interventional cardiac catheterization are being made. E. William Hancock, Scientific American Bulletin
interventionist noun or adjective
Stange et al. recently discovered that family physicians are more interventionist in their screening than the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends. John M. Lee, The New England Journal of Medicine

Legal Definition


in·​ter·​ven·​tion ˌin-tər-ˈven-chən How to pronounce intervention (audio)
: the act or an instance of intervening
specifically : the act or procedure by which a third party becomes a party to a pending proceeding between other parties in order to protect his or her own interest in the subject matter of the suit compare impleader, interpleader, joinder

Note: Intervention developed as a procedure in equity courts. There is some overlap between joinder and intervention because of the merger of law and equity in federal practice.

intervention of right
: intervention allowed in federal civil procedure when a statute grants an absolute right to intervene or when the applicant claims an interest in the subject of the proceeding that the applicant may be impeded from protecting by the disposition of the proceeding

Note: Intervention of right will not be granted if the court considers that the applicant's interest is already adequately represented.

permissive intervention
: intervention allowed in federal civil procedure when a statute grants a conditional right to intervene or when the applicant's claim has a question of law or fact in common with the proceeding

More from Merriam-Webster on intervention

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