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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Every $1 wagered on a Cleveland win profits $1.20 if the Cavs prevail. Joe Williams, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Detroit Pistons at Cleveland Cavaliers odds, picks and best bets," 3 Dec. 2019 That would be roughly the annual average that has prevailed since the Great Recession ended in 2009., "The Commerce Department estimated that the economy grew at a moderate 2.1 percent annual rate over the summer, slightly better than it had previously estimated. Other reports showed stronger consumer spending and a rebound in orders for big-ticket manufactured goods.," 28 Nov. 2019 That would be roughly the annual average that has prevailed since the recession ended in 2009. Arkansas Online, "Spending aids in bolstering U.S. economy," 28 Nov. 2019 Norm was a man of great character, kindness, and generosity, with a sense of humor and positive spirit that prevailed through his final days., "Norman J. LeBlanc," 24 Nov. 2019 McIngvale also was weighing the possibility of more wagers on the Astros to cover his refunds if the Astros prevail. David Barron, Houston Chronicle, "Mattress Mack placing more wagers on Astros to win World Series," 22 Oct. 2019 If higher seeds prevail, Mason would get another crack at the Crusaders in the district championship on Oct. 26. Shelby Dermer,, "Cincinnati high school boys soccer: 5 storylines to watch in OHSAA playoffs," 17 Oct. 2019 To the message that there is a deeper, fundamental order that is not just a matter of the whim of one president or one congress or even one generation, that there is a deeper order here that will prevail. Jessica Gross, Longreads, "Mathematics as a Cultural Force," 27 Sep. 2019 The company argues that an injunction isn't warranted because Audible is likely to win the case—and because Audible can pay cash damages if the publishers ultimately prevail. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Audible fires back at book publishers, says captions are fair use," 16 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for prevail

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

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Statistics for prevail

Last Updated

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Prevail.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 13 December 2019.

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More Definitions for prevail


How to pronounce prevail (audio)

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 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.
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on prevail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prevail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prevail

Spanish Central: Translation of prevail

Nglish: Translation of prevail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prevail for Arabic Speakers

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).


easily led, controlled, or managed

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