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

CenterPoint Energy has planned short outages along the route lasting between 30 minutes and two hours to prevent the shipment from hitting electrical equipment. R.a. Schuetz, Houston Chronicle, "To deliver these two-story-tall crates, traffic lights must be moved and power turned off," 4 Aug. 2019 Cheebie and other employees asked the NSA administration whether the agency could have done anything to prevent the flight. Arthur Holland Michel, The Atlantic, "Aerial Surveillance Is Astonishingly Legal," 3 Aug. 2019 Another attendee, Yevgeny Snetkov, a 61-year-old engineer, described as brazen the way the authorities had prevented opposition candidates from running. Reuters, The Mercury News, "Moscow unrest: 685 detained in protest for free elections," 3 Aug. 2019 Hollingsworth said the law contains safeguards to prevent students from being removed from classrooms in situations that might not warrant it. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, "A new law in Texas will make it easier for schools to discipline students who harass teachers," 3 Aug. 2019 Thatch is an inch or so of stems that are not decaying and which prevent water going into the lawn and new blades of grass growing out of it. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, "Last year’s garden did great. This year, it did nothing. What went wrong?," 1 Aug. 2019 When children are charged with crimes, the court system usually takes some steps to prevent their acts from defining them in later years. New York Times, "She Was Arrested at 14. Then Her Photo Went to a Facial Recognition Database.," 1 Aug. 2019 The filing also alleges that Locast is stripping Nielsen codes from the networks, which prevents those services from picking up ratings credit when their programming is viewed. NBC News, "Free TV startup Locast sued by networks," 31 July 2019 The laws to prevent that are lax and gathering evidence is hard. The Economist, "From fly-tipping to sheep rustling, Britain’s cops crack down on rural crime," 25 July 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

7 Aug 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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