prevent

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

Keep scrolling for more

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?
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

To prevent sappy tree knots from bleeding through a top coat of varnish or paint, use sprayable clear shellac or a primer (usually white) that contains shellac. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "10 Smart Spray Painting Tips for a Great-Looking Paint Job," 11 Mar. 2019 People who’ve had cultural bias prevent them from having opportunities. Allison Glock, Marie Claire, "The Change Makers: Constance Wu, Ava DuVernay, and Jessica Chastain," 7 Mar. 2019 Stream Water from Every Faucet Jack Hope from Hope Plumbing told the IndyStar that keeping your faucets running during low temperatures can help prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "The Polar Vortex Could Severely Damage Your Home," 1 Feb. 2019 Like fencing, individual cages can also help prevent bunnies from eating your prized plants. Jill Gleeson, Country Living, "How to Keep Rabbits Out of Your Garden," 30 Jan. 2019 According to Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed psychologist in the state of Georgia, there are a few common factors that prevent members of the black community from seeking help. Vanessa Willhoughby, Allure, "The Reality of Navigating the Mental Health System as a Black Woman," 13 Oct. 2018 But a proposal to cap at 16,500 the number of detainees caught in areas away from the border — a limit Democrats say was aimed at preventing overreach by the agency — ran into its own Republican wall. Andrew Taylor, The Seattle Times, "Congressional lawmakers reach deal on border wall funding," 11 Feb. 2019 At the time it was thought that this would cause temporary blindness by preventing the eye from adapting to either light or dark. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "The Long, Weird History of Strobe Weapons," 11 Feb. 2019 In general, fluoride toothpaste protects teeth by preventing decay and cavities in two ways, explains Untray T. Brown, DDS, MPH, at NYU Winthrop Hospital’s Center for Family Dental Medicine. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Your Kids Are Probably Using Too Much Toothpaste, And It’s Hurting Their Teeth," 6 Feb. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about prevent

Statistics for prevent

Last Updated

20 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prevent

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to boil down or concentrate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!