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

The Bulldogs prevailed in four matches and will host Ridge Point and Travis this week. Jack Marrion, Houston Chronicle, "FBISD notebook: Travis football rallies to remain undefeated," 16 Sep. 2019 In 2017, Willis prevailed in his long-running federal lawsuit. Allison Stewart,, "The Village People wars have ended, and Victor Willis is back, doing the policeman thing at Riot Fest," 12 Sep. 2019 His ideas on tail risks might yet prevail in the profession, despite his apparent passing-over for the Nobel prize. The Economist, "Martin Weitzman died on August 27th," 5 Sep. 2019 The Panthers prevailed 25-7 in 2018 and have held the Wolves to 14 points or less in each outing. J.c. Carnahan,, "Orlando area Week 2 high school football predictions," 29 Aug. 2019 The varsity’s lower-level counterparts fared better against equally unexperienced opposition: Ramona’s junior varsity defeated Olympian by a 46-0 score and the Bulldogs’ freshman team prevailed in a 28-0 game. Joe Naiman, Ramona Sentinel, "Bulldogs fall to Olympian gridders," 28 Aug. 2019 Manny Pacquiao has a history of prevailing in big fights., "Pacquiao-Thurman Predictions: Case for Both Fighters," 19 July 2019 The teams met last year in Katy, with the Timberwolves prevailing 14-13. Jack Marrion, Houston Chronicle, "Cinco Ranch football hits the road for non-district finale against Cedar Park," 17 Sep. 2019 Highlight: Courtney Patterson had 12 assists and Bella Adler had nine kills for the Mavs (1-1), who prevailed 25-15, 21-25, 25-19, 20-5, 15-6. Carroll County Times Staff,, "Carroll Varsity Roundup (Sept. 16): Century girls soccer stays unbeaten with shutout over Mt. Hebron," 17 Sep. 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

11 Oct 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

What made you want to look up prevail? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to fake an opponent out of position

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