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

intransitive verb

: to gain ascendancy through strength or superiority : triumph
: to be or become effective or effectual
: to use persuasion successfully
prevailed on him to sing
: to be frequent : predominate
the west winds that prevail in the mountains
: to be or continue in use or fashion : persist
a custom that still prevails

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.
Recent Examples on the Web But while prosperity prevailed in crypto markets, Bakkt’s management was quietly struggling to find a product offering that would work, according to former insiders who spoke with Forbes on the condition of anonymity. Forbes Daily, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 The Steelers prevailed, 21-17, to collect a second straight Super Bowl win (and, at the time, become the third back-to-back Super Bowl winner). Jim Reineking, USA TODAY, 23 Feb. 2024 Homeowners with ultra low rates are unwilling to sell and buy a home during a time of higher prevailing market rates. Anna Bahney, CNN, 22 Feb. 2024 The Nikkei's new record was welcomed with applause in some of Tokyo's brokerages, but not the sort of elation that prevailed in 1989. Elaine Kurtenbach, Quartz, 22 Feb. 2024 When the teams played in late November, Leland managed just 33 points as Christopher prevailed by 20. Joseph Dycus, The Mercury News, 21 Feb. 2024 In advocating an uncompromising containment of China, Republicans may be overestimating the United States’ ability to prevail in the event of a confrontation. Niall Ferguson, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 Popular uprisings were still common, however, and whatever uneasy truce prevailed was enforced by the military might of Rome. Elizabeth Heath, Discover Magazine, 17 Feb. 2024 Servite will play Trinity League rival Orange Lutheran, which needed two overtimes to prevail over Harvard-Westlake 2-1. Eric Sondheimer, Los Angeles Times, 17 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prevail.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Latin praevalēre, from prae- pre- + valēre to be strong — more at wield

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

Dictionary Entries Near prevail

Cite this Entry

“Prevail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


pre·​vail pri-ˈvā(ə)l How to pronounce prevail (audio)
: to win against opposition : be successful
our team prevailed
truth will prevail over error
believed injustice should not prevail
: to urge successfully
prevailed upon me to play a few tunes
: to be frequent
the storms that prevail there in winter
: to be or continue to be in use or fashion
lower rates prevail in the evening
customs that still prevail

Legal Definition


intransitive verb
pre·​vail pri-ˈvāl How to pronounce prevail (audio)
: to obtain substantially the relief or action sought in a lawsuit
: to be frequent or predominant
the prevailing rate

More from Merriam-Webster on prevail

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