prev·a·lence | \ˈpre-və-lən(t)s, ˈprev-lən(t)s\

Definition of prevalence 

1 : the quality or state of being prevalent

2 : the degree to which something is prevalent especially : the percentage of a population that is affected with a particular disease at a given time

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of prevalence in a Sentence

the prevalence of rumors when hard information is withheld from the public

Recent Examples on the Web

In fact, despite its growing prevalence, autism has been commonly underfunded and underresearched. Jeffrey Lurie,, "Why the Eagles Are Committed to Austism Awareness, and How the Team Is Taking Action," 13 June 2018 Arkansas, Hawaii and Missouri responded only to either the prevalence rate or the number of inmates treated. Washington Post, "State Prisons Fail To Offer Cure To 144,000 Inmates With Deadly Hepatitis C," 9 July 2018 This flu season has been particularly hard because of the prevalence of the H3N2 virus, a nasty type of flu that tends to hospitalize and kill more people than other common flu bugs. Julie Washington,, "Flu season 2018 shows signs of slowing," 2 Mar. 2018 Because of the prevalence of crime, law enforcement has followed and unmasked many users. Guillermo Contreras, San Antonio Express-News, "Feds investigate child porn and arrest two of their own," 12 Jan. 2018 Now, more than half are typically handed compensation and medical care because of a prevalence of scientific evidence that their illness was caused by an exposure to plant hazards, records say. Yamil Berard, star-telegram, "The perils of Pantex: Hundreds of workers sickened at Texas nuclear weapons plant | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 12 Dec. 2015 Fifty percent of white Americans have cataracts in their late 70s; Hispanic Americans and African Americans have somewhat lower prevalences: 45 and 40 percent, respectively, according to the National Eye Institute. Jill U. Adams,, "For Your Eyes: Sunglasses Even On A Cloudy Day," 31 May 2018 This unsettling prevalence of assault and rape — which seems more necessary in a #MeToo world, but all the more brutal — is a large part of the truly dismal emotional cloud hanging over this season., "13 Reasons Why Review: Season 2 Is Even Better Than The Last One," 16 May 2018 Saudi Arabia, as Gregory Warner discovered, is not at all shy to own up to its low rankings on women in the workforce, CO2 emissions, diabetes prevalence, or migrant rights. Peter Vanham, The New Republic, "Why Do-Gooders Love Development Statistics," 11 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prevalence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of prevalence

1682, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about prevalence

Share prevalence

Statistics for prevalence

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prevalence

The first known use of prevalence was in 1682

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for prevalence


prev·a·lence | \ˈpre-və-ləns \

Kids Definition of prevalence

: the state of happening, being accepted, or being practiced often or over a wide area


prev·a·lence | \ˈprev(-ə)-lən(t)s \

Medical Definition of prevalence 

: the percentage of a population that is affected with a particular disease at a given time — compare incidence sense 2b

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on prevalence

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


a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!