pre·​vail | \ pri-ˈvāl How to pronounce prevail (audio) \
prevailed; prevailing; prevails

Essential Meaning of prevail

1 : to defeat an opponent especially in a long or difficult contest Our soccer team prevailed [=won] despite the bad weather.
2 : to be usual, common, or popular Mutual respect prevails among students and teachers here. The house was built in the style that prevailed in the 1980s.
3 : to be or continue to be in use The tribal custom still prevails [=persists] after hundreds of years. The law still prevails in some states.

Full 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

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 Meanwhile, Prince Mohammed wants a promise that Mr. Erdogan won’t ever mention Mr. Khashoggi’s death again and will prevail upon Turkish media to stop dredging up the topic, regional officials have said. Stephen Kalin, WSJ, 3 Jan. 2022 With their involvement, Perry is confident some level of justice will prevail. Dakin Andone, CNN, 21 Nov. 2021 Despite a decade of underperformance, history suggests that small capitalization stocks will prevail in the long run—so long as investors are willing to weather volatility. Hank Tucker, Forbes, 12 Nov. 2021 Unfortunately, Minnesota lacks enough game-changers to win and the Ravens will prevail from having an extra week to prepare from the bye. Baltimore Sun Staff,, 5 Nov. 2021 Ultimately, Sherman thinks the delivery companies will prevail in court. Kristen Hawley, Robb Report, 21 Oct. 2021 The Cardinals should be able to throw some exotic looks at Cleveland, but the Browns will ultimately prevail to maintain a perfect home record. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, 11 Oct. 2021 Both sides consider the race a toss-up, and both believe the candidate with the more enthusiastic base will prevail. Washington Post, 9 Oct. 2021 But the musicians believe the power of song will prevail as the visual appears to convey. Althea Legaspi, Rolling Stone, 30 Sep. 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.

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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

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

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Last Updated

20 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Prevail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for prevail


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


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