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 Queta’s stat line against the Aztecs — 14 points and 16 rebounds on 7-of-11 shooting — is the kind of production the Aggies will need in order to prevail in the gauntlet of games that awaits them. Alex Vejar, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah State men’s basketball’s 57-45 win over San Diego State has implications for the near future," 14 Jan. 2021 Once Trump did prevail in the electoral college vote, Scarborough made some forays out of journalism and into activism. Washington Post, "Joe Scarborough: ‘We made the same mistake that people made during Hitler’s rise’," 14 Jan. 2021 Democrats would have to prevail in two races to give incoming Vice President Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote in the Senate. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, "Hollywood steps up its role in Georgia Senate races. Will it help or hurt?," 1 Jan. 2021 Republicans currently hold a 50-48 edge in the Senate, needing just Loeffler or Perdue to prevail in order to keep hold of their slim majority. Michael Lee, Washington Examiner, "Pollster predicts Loeffler victory but is less confident on Perdue's chances," 25 Dec. 2020 They were accused of providing the necessary number of votes for Kennedy to prevail in Cook County and thus the entire state and nation. Cal Thomas, Arkansas Online, "OPINION | CAL THOMAS: The unraveling of Trump's case," 26 Nov. 2020 The tumult has weighed heavily on folks, their fears focused not only on whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden will ultimately prevail, but on whether the election’s aftermath will be peaceful or chaotic. Jill Tucker,, "Butterflies and binge watching: Bay Area is stressed out and exhausted on eve of election," 2 Nov. 2020 Ronit Calderon-Margalit, a professor of epidemiology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a member of the coronavirus task force, fears political pressure to ease the reins will ultimately prevail. Yaacov Benmeleh,, "Netanyahu Swings Virus Battleaxe With Eye to Possible Election," 29 Oct. 2020 The bells herald the promise that Longfellow’s pain, that our pain, will not prevail. David French, Time, "A Christmas Hymn for Our Troubled Time," 24 Dec. 2020

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

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prevail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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