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 Endurance athletes, who typically prevail through extreme emotional as well as physical challenges, often experience a type of post-traumatic growth. Elizabeth Bernstein, WSJ, "Can the Pandemic Make Us Stronger? Endurance Athletes Tell Us How," 4 May 2021 My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail! Sarah Brookbank, The Enquirer, "LeBron James says he 'fueled the wrong conversation' about Ma’Khia Bryant," 4 May 2021 While short-term risk can be dealt with by on-call professionals, the most serious psychological risk in psychedelics is related to mental health symptoms that can prevail after the psychedelic experience is over. Natan Ponieman, Forbes, "Can A Genetic Test Prevent Risk In Psychedelic Therapy? These Companies Are Betting On It," 27 Apr. 2021 My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail! Analis Bailey, USA TODAY, "LeBron James sarcastically responds to Cincinnati bar that refuses to show NBA games until he is 'expelled'," 24 Apr. 2021 Medium Seasons may change between Monday and Tuesday while mostly sunny skies prevail. Washington Post, "D.C.-area forecast: More springlike in the days ahead. Rain chances arrive late Saturday.," 23 Apr. 2021 My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail! Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, "LeBron James takes heat from the right for tweet about the killing of Ma’Khia Bryant," 22 Apr. 2021 My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail! NBC News, "LeBron James explains why he deleted tweet about police shooting of Ma'Khia Bryant," 21 Apr. 2021 But as the preliminary vote neared, some Black operatives feared the potency of the white political machine would once again prevail if the Black vote was divided among the diverse candidates., "A history of Black candidates running to be Boston’s mayor," 5 Apr. 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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for prevail

Last Updated

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prevail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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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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