prev·​a·​lent | \ ˈpre-və-lənt How to pronounce prevalent (audio) , ˈprev-lənt \

Definition of prevalent

1 : generally or widely accepted, practiced, or favored : widespread
2 : being in ascendancy : dominant
3 archaic : powerful

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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 Support for mandates is even more prevalent among those fully vaccinated in California (which is on the higher end of state vaccination rates) and among them, support rises to the 80-plus percent range. Anthony Salvanto, Fred Backus, Jennifer De Pinto, CBS News, 15 Aug. 2021 Vaccine hesitancy is much more prevalent among Republicans than Democrats. Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times, 6 July 2021 The idea that polyandry is not authentically African was also prevalent among religious leaders, the Department of Home Affairs found. Zamira Rahim, CNN, 28 June 2021 Supporting this ambitious mission requires a solid culture where respect, personal responsibility and initiative are prevalent among team members. Lisa Deaderick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 June 2021 Side effects — most commonly fatigue, dry mouth and nausea — were more prevalent among those receiving the compound than among those who did not, but did not appear to significantly affect quality of life, the researchers said. New York Times, 24 June 2021 Per the Health Resources and Services Administration, low health literacy is more prevalent among older adults, minority populations, those who have low socioeconomic status, and medically underserved communities. Seth Joseph, Forbes, 23 June 2021 But polling shows that the vaccine hesitancy is far more prevalent among Republicans than Democrats. Washington Post, 2 June 2021 New research suggests that the condition is more prevalent among women than men. The Economist, 17 Apr. 2021

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 3

History and Etymology for prevalent

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

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Time Traveler for prevalent

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

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Last Updated

7 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prevalent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Sep. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce prevalent (audio) \

Kids Definition of prevalent

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

More from Merriam-Webster on prevalent

Nglish: Translation of prevalent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prevalent for Arabic Speakers


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