prev·​a·​lent | \ˈpre-və-lənt, ˈprev-lənt\

Definition of prevalent 

1 archaic : powerful

2 : being in ascendancy : dominant

3 : generally or widely accepted, practiced, or favored : widespread

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Other Words from prevalent

prevalent noun
prevalently adverb

How Should You Use prevalent?

Many diseases that were prevalent a century ago have been controlled by advances in medicine. Smallpox was prevalent on several continents for many centuries, and when Europeans brought it with them to the Americas, it killed more American Indians than the armed settlers did. But prevalent doesn't just describe diseases. One ideal of male or female beauty may be prevalent in a particular society and quite a different ideal in another. In the 1950s and '60s, there was a prevalent notion that if you went swimming less than an hour after eating you might drown because of stomach cramps—which goes to show that not every prevalent idea is exactly true.

Examples of prevalent in a Sentence

Sweden is known as a nation ridden by suicide and alcoholism, but those problems are no more prevalent here than in most European countries. — John Harris, Rolling Stone, 14 Nov. 2002 Teams seem to him better coached, players more skilled, the strategy even more defensive, the opportunities less prevalent, the game less ripe. — Alec Wilkinson, ESPN, 16 Apr. 2001 So prevalent were grave robberies that the pharaohs' loyal retainers often spirited away their masters' remains for reinterment in secret graves. — Paul Martin, National Geographic Traveler, March 1999 Throughout the Mediterranean culture, which was the matrix of our own, the tree was a prevalent embodiment of the Mother Goddess;  … — Francis DuPlessix Gray, UTNE Reader, November/December 1987 a custom that was once prevalent here Those teaching methods are still prevalent at some schools. a fashion that is prevalent among teenagers
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Recent Examples on the Web

Bacteria were more prevalent than eukaryotes and archaea, although this finding could be biased by the relative lack of eukaryotic sequences in public databases. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Ahh, summer—ramlibacter season," 14 Nov. 2018 Harry Murphy /Web Summit via Getty Images Facial recognition software is already prevalent in a lot of mainstream technology products. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Microsoft’s president says we need to regulate facial recognition tech before ‘the year 2024 looks like the book “1984”’," 7 Nov. 2018 This became especially prevalent when her relationship with Cole hit headlines everywhere, as she is always bombarded with fans online and in person, hoping for details about their courtship. Devon Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Cole Sprouse Gets More Fan DMs Than His "Riverdale" Castmates," 10 Oct. 2018 After researchers identify the strains likely to cause the most trouble each year, viruses can mutate, and strains that researchers didn't anticipate can become prevalent. Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, "The 2019 Flu Season May Be as Deadly as 2018's — Here's How to Prepare Yourself," 3 Oct. 2018 Drone sales have been rapidly rising as the technology becomes more prevalent. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "A Regulatory Overhaul Could Drastically Change Who Can Fly Drones in the U.S.," 28 Sep. 2018 Historically, algal blooms become more prevalent in the fall and decline in late winter and spring. Kate Furby, The Seattle Times, "Red tide algae’s deadly toll on sea life has triggered a state of emergency in Florida," 14 Aug. 2018 But what became clear is that the more prevalent the conversation about transgender rights and lives has become, [the movie] in a weird way became more relevant. New York Times, "Jim Parsons Takes a Break From Sheldon to Play Dad," 25 May 2018 The problem became so prevalent that the agency began carefully tracking fraudulent family cases in the Rio Grande Valley, after agents noticed a heightened use of fake documents. Emilie Ikeda, Fox News, "Migrant children being used as ‘commodity to circumvent a loophole,’ border agent says," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prevalent.' 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 prevalent

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prevalent

Latin praevalent-, praevalens very powerful, from present participle of praevalēre

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Statistics for prevalent

Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for prevalent

The first known use of prevalent was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for prevalent



English Language Learners Definition of prevalent

: accepted, done, or happening often or over a large area at a particular time : common or widespread


prev·​a·​lent | \ˈpre-və-lənt \

Kids Definition of prevalent

: accepted, practiced, or happening often or over a wide area prevalent beliefs

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Comments on prevalent

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


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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