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

Of course, for some members of the team, that sentiment is less about revenge for what transpired last October than a broader outlook that has prevailed on the Dodgers this year. Alex Speier,, "Dodgers will roll into Fenway looking for payback against Red Sox," 11 July 2019 Common sense needs to prevail over nostalgia or the sliver of hope that the Giants can continue to win and slide into a wild-card spot. Henry Schulman,, "Giants open second half with pressing trade questions and a sliver of hope," 11 July 2019 The 2016 omnium Olympic champion was ideally set up by the Deceuninck-Quick Step leadout train in the finale and made the most of the slight uphill finish to prevail., "Tour de France: Viviani storms bunch sprint to win Stage 4," 9 July 2019 Of course, most will also remember his interception at the goal line in Super Bowl XLIX, allowing the Patriots to prevail the following year, 28-24. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Was Rose Lavelle's World Cup showing the biggest performance by an ex-Badger ... ever?," 8 July 2019 Justice Samuel Alito cast the deciding vote that enabled the liberals to prevail this time, but his three-paragraph concurrence made clear that the victory may be short-lived. Jeannie Suk Gersen, The New Yorker, "The Supreme Court Is One Vote Away from Changing How the U.S. Is Governed," 3 July 2019 Growth, both the Fed and markets are telling us, is quickly reverting to the slow and steady pace that prevailed before Trump’s act of corporate largesse. Matt O'brien, Washington Post, "The economy has a lot more problems than just Trump’s trade war," 20 June 2019 Kris talks about a story that broke late in the week about an appellate court slapping a federal court judge in Cleveland for allowing secrecy to prevail in an an opioid lawsuit of national significance., "State acts on jail while Cuyahoga council does nothing, Armond Budish details jail reforms, murder suspect accidentally freed, Ohio’s new top employer, Dan Gilbert pays up, Anthony Sowell settlement mystery and Mitchell’s flavors ranked – This Week in the CLE," 20 June 2019 With no competition, a monopoly firm will reduce output below the level that would prevail in a free market and can sell it for a high price. Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, "Real World Economics: Playing monopoly is more than just rolling the dice," 16 June 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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Statistics for prevail

Last Updated

19 Jul 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

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characterized by aphorism

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