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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for prevail



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Back on the other coast, West scored another 39 points and the Lakers took a 3-2 lead with a 117-104 win, but Boston won Game 6, 99-90, and then became the first road team to prevail in Game 7 of an NBA Finals with a 108-106 victory. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10 July 2021 Newgarden became the sixth consecutive race-leader in laps led, as well as the seventh consecutive pole-sitter, not to prevail in this wacky, unpredictable, ultra-competitive IndyCar season. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 20 June 2021 Breathing and endurance will be necessary if Ellis is to prevail in the Olympics against her archrival, Beatriz Ferreira of Brazil., 11 June 2021 Then, with the stadium empty and his anger boiling over, Djokovic outfought Berrettini to barely prevail in the fourth, screaming like a cave man when Berrettini’s final shot hit the middle of the net. New York Times, 9 June 2021 Wall Street analysts expect Apple to prevail in the trial — which would mean no or few changes to iOS and the App Store. Dan Patterson, CBS News, 26 May 2021 That streakiness showed up earlier in the series; the Wild overcame a slow start in Game 1 to prevail 1-0 in overtime. Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune, 21 May 2021 The chase came down to the final event, the 4x400-meter relay, with MDC sitting in third place and having to finish in the top three to prevail in the team title standings. Buddy Collings,, 7 May 2021 Common sense is about to prevail in the minor leagues. Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 May 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About prevail

Time Traveler for prevail

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for prevail

Last Updated

19 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prevail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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 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


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!