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

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Other Words from prevent

preventability \ pri-​ˌven-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce preventability (audio) \ noun
preventable or less commonly preventible \ pri-​ˈven-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce preventible (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?
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Recent Examples on the Web

Beds are built on platforms to prevent people from hiding beneath them, doors purposely don’t open wide enough to shield players from prying eyes, and there is even a camera in the bathroom stall. Bonnie Mccarthy, latimes.com, "We went behind the scenes of the new ‘Big Brother’ house in Studio City," 6 July 2019 The moves seemed designed to prevent people from actually using the service by cutting access to popular and first-release films. Jon Porter, The Verge, "MoviePass has shut down for ‘several weeks’ to update its app," 5 July 2019 The American Academy of Pediatrics says such fences prevent more than half of swimming pool drownings of young children. Amy Chillag, CNN, "Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for young children. Here's how to prevent it," 3 July 2019 The health department's mobile syringe exchange program, The Exchange Project, will provide fentanyl test strips, which advocates say can prevent some overdoses. Valerie Royzman, Cincinnati.com, "New step to protect against ODs: Hamilton County offers fentanyl test strips," 2 July 2019 The racial accuracy problem is a distraction; how the technology is used matters, and that’s where policy could prevent abuse. Sidney Fussell, The Atlantic, "The Strange Politics of Facial Recognition," 28 June 2019 Acne can not only alter the state of your skin, but can also impair your self-esteem, cause depression, poor performance in school, and even prevent people from forming close relationships with other people. Sara Radin, Teen Vogue, "What Is Acne? What Causes Pimples and How to Treat Them," 27 June 2019 Earlier this month, the Senate passed a measure to prevent people who have meddled in American elections from securing visas to enter the United States, and last year, Congress approved $380 million in funding to improve election security systems. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "House passes election security bill over GOP objections," 27 June 2019 But now, Mexico is volunteering to do more to prevent people from crossing into the United States by strengthening its northern border. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Thousands more National Guard troops to arrive in Tijuana," 26 June 2019

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 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

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Statistics for prevent

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

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

prevent

verb

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

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on prevent

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prevent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prevent

Spanish Central: Translation of prevent

Nglish: Translation of prevent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prevent for Arabic Speakers

Comments on prevent

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appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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