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 But the company challenged that decision in court and prevailed. Arian Campo-flores, WSJ, "Florida to Buy Everglades Parcel to Save It From Oil Drilling," 15 Jan. 2020 After jumping out to a strong start, the Packers weathered an impressive charge by Russell Wilson and the Seahawks and prevailed by 28-23 Sunday night at Lambeau Field. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Packers put away Seahawks, set up rematch with 49ers in NFC Championship Game," 13 Jan. 2020 Their chances of prevailing have been bolstered by an increasingly right-leaning judiciary fostered by the nation's red/blue divide. The Editors, Scientific American, "A Nationwide Ban Is Needed for “Anti-Gay Therapy”," 13 Jan. 2020 While leftist ideas have long prevailed at the university and many of India’s other leading campuses, the R.S.S. has worked to inculcate its far-right ideology at a much younger age. New York Times, "Behind Campus Attack in India, Some See a Far-Right Agenda," 10 Jan. 2020 The Falcons and Cougars advanced to the championship game of the Lake Travis Holiday Tournament, with Tompkins prevailing 57-41. Jack Marrion, Houston Chronicle, "Tompkins girls basketball returns to District 19-6A play, continues winning streak," 7 Jan. 2020 Bond yields are well below 2% and gold sits at nearly a 7-year high, both signaling that fear still prevails. Christine Romans, CNN, "Iran overtakes the trade war as the new election-year uncertainty," 7 Jan. 2020 Hearsay was already common currency in a place where press censorship and the secret police prevailed, and the war in Europe stoked the rumor mills. Time, "Why the U.S. Sent Librarians Undercover to Gather Intelligence During World War II," 3 Jan. 2020 This year, sunshine prevailed, temperatures went up (a little) and the good weather brought out the crowds. cleveland, "Sunshine brightens this year’s Rocky River Holiday Walk," 10 Dec. 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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for prevail

Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prevail.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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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).


good-natured easy friendliness

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