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 The Kentucky Republican is a canny legislative tactician who helped the president beat impeachment and prevail in two previous Supreme Court confirmation battles. W. James Antle Iii, Washington Examiner, "The Supreme Court fight of our lives," 24 Sep. 2020 Biden leads in national polls, but the winner needs to prevail in the industrial Midwest as well as new battlegrounds like North Carolina and Arizona to achieve an Electoral College victory. Mario Parker,, "Trump Retreats From Advertising in Key Battleground States," 24 Sep. 2020 The expectation, though, is that customary practice will prevail. Evan Grant, Dallas News, "How Rangers can balance avoiding tanking without ruining draft position in final week of the season," 22 Sep. 2020 Under the conditions that prevail in the atmosphere, both the phosphorous and hydrogen will typically be oxidized, and there's not much of either around. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Chemical that shouldn’t be there spotted in Venus’ atmosphere," 14 Sep. 2020 In any event, Biden promises that once Trump is gone peace will again prevail. David Harsanyi, National Review, "The Democrats Are Whitewashing Leftist Violence," 1 Sep. 2020 Pence seized on the national reckoning over racial injustice to argue that Democratic leaders are allowing lawlessness to prevail in cities from coast to coast. Arkansas Online, "Pence takes his turn, 'humbly' accepts nod," 27 Aug. 2020 Pence argued that Democratic leaders are allowing lawlessness to prevail from coast to coast. Zeke Miller, Star Tribune, "Trump to blast Biden as 'extreme' in convention speech," 27 Aug. 2020 Red Flag Warning in effect for areas south of I-70 & east of I-25 where wind gusts to 45 mph & dry conditions will prevail. Kirk Mitchell, The Denver Post, "Denver weather: Red flag warning before another storm hits," 26 Mar. 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.

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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

28 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prevail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 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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