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


conquer, triumph, win



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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

Justice Stephen Breyer pointed to federal prosecutions for crimes of racial violence and domestic violence against Native American women that could be imperiled if Gamble prevailed. Mark Sherman,, "Supreme Court upholds rule allowing state, federal charges for same crime," 17 June 2019 But thousands of ordinary shareholders may still be forced to give back some of the proceeds from the 2007 buyout — if the litigation trust representing the unsecured creditors prevails in still-unsettled actions. Robert Channick,, "Ten years after Tribune Co. 'deal from hell,' Zell and other former execs agree to pay $200 million to settle leveraged buyout lawsuit," 14 June 2019 Depending on who shines in Game 7, Ryan O'Reilly or Jaden Schwartz could win the award, as could Binnington, if the Blues prevail. Mike Brehm, USA TODAY, "Stanley Cup Final: Time, TV, streaming info and everything you need for Game 7 of Bruins-Blues," 10 June 2019 The proposed law would also force companies like Verizon to reimburse towns for attorneys' fees if towns prevail in future court cases over the tax. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Verizon avoided a decade’s worth of taxes—a new law could make it pay up," 4 June 2019 During the last presidential election, Perry—a lifelong Democrat and longtime supporter and friend of Hillary Clinton—vowed to leave the country if her candidate did not prevail. Alina Cho, ELLE Decor, "Fashion Designer Lisa Perry Goes Back to the Future with a 1960s-Style Retreat on the French Riviera," 22 May 2019 Austin High prevailed 3-2 at the Round Rock ISD tournament on Feb. 22. Terrence Thomas,, "Cougarettes earn return trip to state," 4 June 2019 Cooler temperatures will prevail on Sunday when the high will be only around 68 degrees, forecasters said. Kirk Mitchell, The Denver Post, "Denver weather: Thunderstorms and rain in the city; large hail, flooding on the plains," 3 June 2019 Xi Jinping clearly is calculating that China’s carrot-and-stick approach will prevail. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Tit-for-Tat: Trump and Xi Both Think the Other Guy is Bluffing," 16 June 2018

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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Statistics for prevail

Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for prevail

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

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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.
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prevail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


to take the place or position of

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