pre·​vail | \pri-ˈvāl \
prevailed; prevailing; prevails

Definition of prevail 

intransitive verb

1 : to gain ascendancy through strength or superiority : triumph

2 : to be or become effective or effectual

3 : to use persuasion successfully prevailed on him to sing

4 : to be frequent : predominate the west winds that prevail in the mountains

5 : to be or continue in use or fashion : persist a custom that still prevails

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Synonyms & Antonyms for prevail


hold out, hold up, keep up, last, survive


fail, fizzle, give out, go out, peter (out), run out

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Examples of prevail in a Sentence

Mutual respect prevails among students and teachers here. The house was built in the style that prevailed in the 1980s. The law still prevails in some states.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Hoare's winning time, 3 minutes, 44.77 seconds, was slow by the standards of college running, but typical of championship races, where a sit-and-kick strategy usually prevails. Special To The Oregonian,, "Wisconsin's Oliver Hoare wins physical men's 1,500 at NCAA track championships; Oregon's Sam Prakel is 6th," 8 June 2018 Ramona traveled to the Pala Mesa course in Fallbrook for an April 23 match, and the Warriors prevailed by a 232-254 margin. Joe Naiman, Ramona Sentinel, "Serop Matoian second among league golfers," 7 June 2018 So even though their team prevailed more than 1,300 miles away and in another country, Jets fans took to the streets of Winnipeg and celebrated their team in the most patriotic way possible. Michelle R. Martinelli, For The Win, "Jets fans politely celebrate playoff win by singing Canadian anthem in downtown Winnipeg," 11 May 2018 In a match between familiar foes that started Friday night but was called for curfew, Djokovic prevailed, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9), 3-6, 10-8. Sam Farmer,, "Djokovic Wins Another Marathon, Defeating Nadal In Wimbledon Semifinal," 14 July 2018 Mondale also prevailed in the District of Columbia. Washington Post,, "Trump falsely claims for a third time that Reagan lost Wisconsin, but he was able to win it," 13 July 2018 When times were bad - 1986, 2008 and 2015 - pessimism prevailed. Houston Chronicle, "Competition for top talent keeps pay scale high in oil industry," 13 July 2018 Florida State ultimately prevailed in the last BCS championship game, but the Seminoles had no answer for Mason, the engine of a lethal Tigers ground game. Ben Ladner,, "The 10 Best National Championship Game Performances of the BCS Era," 13 July 2018 Lopez Obrador prevailed in Mexico City and in all but one of Mexico’s 31 states, and his political party and allies were on course for a majority in both houses of Mexico’s Congress. Patrick J. Mcdonnell,, "Once denounced as a political threat, Lopez Obrador is now the darling of Mexico," 10 July 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for prevail

Middle English, from Latin praevalēre, from prae- pre- + valēre to be strong — more at wield

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Statistics for prevail

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prevail

The first known use of prevail was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for prevail



English Language Learners Definition of prevail

: to defeat an opponent especially in a long or difficult contest

: to be usual, common, or popular

: to be or continue to be in use


pre·​vail | \pri-ˈvāl \
prevailed; prevailing

Kids Definition of prevail

1 : to succeed in convincing Students prevailed upon the teacher to extend recess.

2 : to be or become usual, common, or widespread West winds prevail in that region.

3 : to win against opposition Good will prevail over evil.

pre·​vail | \pri-ˈvāl \

Legal Definition of prevail 

1 : to obtain substantially the relief or action sought in a lawsuit

2 : to be frequent or predominant the prevailing rate

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Comments on prevail

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


by force of circumstances

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