pre·​vail | \ pri-ˈvāl How to pronounce prevail (audio) \
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

Synonyms & Antonyms for prevail



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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.
Recent Examples on the Web To make good on that statement, common sense must prevail. New York Times, 1 Aug. 2022 Over the long term, Manchin’s objections to the global minimum corporate tax won’t likely prevail, even if the Republicans retake Congress in November. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 20 July 2022 The American economy and businesses, as always, will prevail. Mark Zandi For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, 20 July 2022 Either of those two could prevail in this race if their club makes a major second half move. Tony Blengino, Forbes, 7 July 2022 Saturday and Sunday, with closer to normal middle 80s on Monday as partly sunny skies prevail. Matt Rogers, Washington Post, 14 June 2022 Gentrification and patterns of displacement now prevail in almost every corner of Utah’s capital — and the trends are rapidly getting worse, according to a new in-depth study called Thriving in Place. The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 July 2022 Hogshead-Makar hopes cooler heads will prevail and Harper trusts science to find a better metric. David Wharton, Los Angeles Times, 20 June 2022 Yosef expressed confidence that the effort to form an independent union would prevail and eventually spread to other Trader Joe's locations. Kate Gibson, CBS News, 9 June 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for prevail

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

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Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Prevail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for prevail


pre·​vail | \ pri-ˈvāl How to pronounce prevail (audio) \
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.


intransitive verb
pre·​vail | \ pri-ˈvāl How to pronounce prevail (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on prevail

Nglish: Translation of prevail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prevail for Arabic Speakers


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