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

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Examples of prevalence in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

Other cities flummoxed by the sudden prevalence of the dockless bikes are watching Tempe's next move, Mayor Mark Mitchell said. Jerod Macdonald-evoy, azcentral, "Is it time to regulate bike-share programs? Tempe's considering it as other cities watch," 2 May 2018 But thanks to the prevalence of sleeker textures in our culture, many people, even folks who do hair for a living, aren't aware of all the options. Allure, "Goodbye to "Good Hair": Six People Open Up to Allure About the Beauty and Diversity of Black Hair," 8 Aug. 2018 Arab and Arab-American students have the highest prevalence of mental health issues and the lowest levels of knowledge about mental health, the study found. Laura Krantz,, "Mental health is a college stumbling block. For students of color, it can be a wall," 10 July 2018 Flight attendants’ risk of breast cancer, melanoma, and non-melanoma skin cancer was particularly elevated, but the researchers also found a higher prevalence of uterine, cervical, gastrointestinal, thyroid cancers in the group. Hallie Detrick, Fortune, "Flight Attendants Have a Higher Risk of Certain Types of Cancers. Here Are a Few Possible Reasons Why," 26 June 2018 Smith, a visiting physician at Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services, a treatment center for boys where Pohl eventually got help, speculates that the potency of today's pot is causing a higher prevalence of problematic marijuana use. Christine Vestal, Anchorage Daily News, "Marijuana addiction is real, and rising," 25 June 2018 Conducting large-scale HIV testing is also hard because the virus is dispersed unevenly across the country, with some states having a much lower prevalence than others. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "Nigeria has more HIV-infected babies than anywhere in the world. It’s a distinction no country wants," 12 June 2018 Denmark, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom showed the highest prevalence of cocaine use among young adults ages 15 to 35, with more than 2.5% of the young adult population in those countries reporting cocaine use in 2016. Rory Smith, CNN, "Rising cocaine purity and availability fueling addictions in Europe," 7 June 2018 That’s the highest prevalence since the CDC began tracking the disorder 18 years ago, Boys were four times more likely to be identified with autism spectrum disorder than girls. Andrea K. Mcdaniels,, "Rate of kids with autism in Maryland jumps to one in 50," 26 Apr. 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.

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First Known Use of prevalence

1682, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for prevalence

The first known use of prevalence was in 1682

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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

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to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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