prevent

verb
pre·​vent | \ pri-ˈvent How to pronounce prevent (audio) \
prevented; preventing; prevents

Definition of prevent

transitive verb

1 : to keep from happening or existing steps to prevent war
2 : to hold or keep back : hinder, stop often used with from
3 : to deprive of power or hope of acting or succeeding
4 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

intransitive verb

: to interpose an obstacle

Other Words from prevent

preventability \ pri-​ˌven-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce prevent (audio) \ noun
preventable or less commonly preventible \ pri-​ˈven-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce prevent (audio) \ 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? See More
Recent Examples on the Web Take steps to prevent young children from entering the car themselves and becoming trapped, including locking the car while it's parked at home. Emmarie Huetteman, CBS News, 3 Aug. 2022 Some Republicans, such as Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, say the guardrails are not strong enough to prevent US technology from leaking to China. BostonGlobe.com, 3 Aug. 2022 Today, transplant surgeons must scramble to stay ahead of ischemia and prevent organs from going too long without blood supply. Evan Bush, NBC News, 3 Aug. 2022 Wary of the reaction from China, the Biden administration discouraged but did not prevent Pelosi from visiting Taiwan. Matthew Lee, ajc, 3 Aug. 2022 Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, is roughly 80 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, meaning that reducing such leaks is vital to prevent the planet from warming further. Grace Segers, The New Republic, 2 Aug. 2022 The law, designed to prevent bad projects from getting built, instead is preventing any project from getting built. Brentan Alexander, Forbes, 2 Aug. 2022 Some soaker hoses are equipped with a clog-resistant fabric cover to prevent clogs from soil, but internal calcium buildup from hard water can still result. James Fitzgerald, Popular Mechanics, 2 Aug. 2022 Singapore authorities say the strict penalties deter drug crimes and have helped prevent major drug syndicates from establishing themselves in the country. Feliz Solomon, WSJ, 2 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of prevent

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4c

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

Learn More About prevent

Time Traveler for prevent

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near prevent

prevenient grace

prevent

preventative

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for prevent

Last Updated

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Prevent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prevent. Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for prevent

prevent

verb
pre·​vent | \ pri-ˈvent How to pronounce prevent (audio) \
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

More from Merriam-Webster on prevent

Nglish: Translation of prevent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prevent for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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