pre·vent | \ pri-ˈvent \
prevented; preventing; prevents

Definition of prevent 

transitive verb

1 archaic

a : to be in readiness for (something, such as an occasion)

b : to meet or satisfy in advance

c : to act ahead of

d : to go or arrive before

2 : to deprive of power or hope of acting or succeeding

3 : to keep from happening or existing steps to prevent war

4 : to hold or keep back : hinder, stop often used with from

intransitive verb

: to interpose an obstacle

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Other words from prevent

preventability \pri-ˌven-tə-ˈbi-lə-tē \ noun
preventable or less commonly preventible \pri-ˈven-tə-bəl \ adjective
preventer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for prevent

prevent, anticipate, forestall mean to deal with beforehand. prevent implies taking advance measures against something possible or probable. measures taken to prevent leaks anticipate may imply merely getting ahead of another by being a precursor or forerunner or it may imply checking another's intention by acting first. anticipated the question by making a statement forestall implies a getting ahead so as to stop or interrupt something in its course. hoped to forestall the sale

Examples of prevent in a Sentence

Seatbelts in cars often prevent serious injuries. Can exercise and a healthy diet prevent heart disease? The accident could have been prevented. He grabbed my arm to prevent me from falling. Bad weather prevented us from leaving. How are you going to prevent him from finding out about the party?
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Recent Examples on the Web

Rain in the White Mountains is preventing heavy equipment from installing a shock pad and the turf on top of aggregate layers already in place. Jeff Metcalfe, azcentral, "ASU football cancels trip to Camp Tontozona due to field-construction delay," 13 July 2018 Unfold the pastry gently, and to prevent sticking, roll the sheet out on a surface dusted with flour, cinnamon sugar, or grated cheese, depending on whether your recipe is sweet or savory. Carole Kotkin, miamiherald, "Puff pastry can be used in countless sweet and savory ways," 12 July 2018 Though never formally charged with any crime herself, she was prevented by security agents from leaving their apartment in Beijing and allowed only limited access to telephone or internet services. The Economist, "China frees the widow of a Nobel peace-prize winner," 11 July 2018 However, civil unrest and violent demonstrations spurred by plans to raise gas prices in the country prevented the groups from getting home safely. Deasia Paige, Detroit Free Press, "Stranded Troy Kensington Church mission members back from Haiti," 11 July 2018 Having him off the bench will also prevent incremental steps against capital punishment from going forward. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "America under Brett Kavanaugh," 11 July 2018 The retinaldehyde works to prevent pimples, while the glycolic acid reduces the appearance of existing acne scars. Ashley Weatherford, The Cut, "Is This Vitamin the Secret to Smooth Skin?," 10 July 2018 According to a study from the World Health Organization published in The Lancet, breastfeeding could prevent 823,000 infant deaths and 20,000 maternal deaths every year, worldwide. Ashley Welch, CBS News, "Why breastfeeding is the "gold standard" for babies' health," 10 July 2018 In other words, ISPs are prevented from throttling or blocking service to certain websites, and they are not allowed to charge a premium for any type of access. Kevin Kelleher, Fortune, "Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's Potential Supreme Court Nominee, Is No Friend to Net Neutrality," 10 July 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1c

History and Etymology for prevent

Middle English, to anticipate, from Latin praeventus, past participle of praevenire to come before, anticipate, forestall, from prae- + venire to come — more at come

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Statistics for prevent

Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prevent

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

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More Definitions for prevent



English Language Learners Definition of prevent

: to stop (something) from happening or existing

: to make (someone or something) not do something : to stop (someone or something) from doing something


pre·vent | \ pri-ˈvent \
prevented; preventing

Kids Definition of prevent

1 : to keep from happening Helmets help to prevent injuries.

2 : to hold or keep back Bad weather prevented us from leaving.

Other words from prevent

preventable \pri-ˈven-tə-bəl \ adjective

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Comments on prevent

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


characteristic trappings or dress

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