fore·​stall | \ fȯr-ˈstȯl How to pronounce forestall (audio) \
forestalled; forestalling; forestalls

Definition of forestall

transitive verb

1 : to exclude, hinder, or prevent (something) by prior occupation or measures Negotiations failed to forestall the conflict.
2 : to get ahead of (something) : anticipate detailed explanations intended to forestall questions
3 : to prevent the normal trading in (something) by buying or diverting goods or by persuading people to raise prices forestalling the wheat harvest and selling it at three times its cost …— George Bernard Shaw
4 archaic : intercept … he sprang like a cat to the top of the cabin and ran aft. But his pursuers forestalling him, he doubled back across the cabin …— Jack London
5 obsolete : obstruct, beset

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Other Words from forestall

forestaller noun
forestallment \ fȯr-​ˈstȯl-​mənt How to pronounce forestall (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for forestall

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 forestall in a Sentence

Negotiations failed to forestall the conflict. His comments were meant to forestall criticism of his proposal. He forestalled critics by offering a defense of the project.
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Recent Examples on the Web Police intercepted political opposition leaders traveling to visit the families of the dead farmers and held them briefly to forestall the possibility of more violence. Washington Post, 15 Oct. 2021 But this presumes the government will act in a timely manner to forestall a collapse of the property market. Nick Sargen, Forbes, 20 Sep. 2021 Tesla could attempt to forestall the inquiry by declaring much of the data in question to be proprietary business information, Smith said. Los Angeles Times, 2 Sep. 2021 Hoarding vaccines when many health workers and vulnerable people elsewhere haven’t even gotten their first doses would be a major misstep, hampering our ability to forestall new variants and end the pandemic. Melody Schreiber, The New Republic, 29 July 2021 New court documents reveal how the faith’s lawyers got personal in trying to forestall the filing of a federal fraud lawsuit. The Salt Lake Tribune, 29 Aug. 2021 The new focus on indoor air quality could help hasten the end of the current pandemic and perhaps even help forestall the next one. Douglas Starr, Science | AAAS, 5 Aug. 2021 The question is whether the tuition-free headline was designed to forestall a deeper examination of the decision to barter away the school name. Los Angeles Times, 17 July 2021 This skeptical conclusion is not what one is supposed to draw from this week’s trans-Atlantic deal to forestall new European tariff retaliation against American goods. Phil Levy, Forbes, 18 May 2021

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for forestall

Middle English, from forstall act of waylaying, from Old English foresteall, from fore- + steall position, stall

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Time Traveler for forestall

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

22 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Forestall.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for forestall



English Language Learners Definition of forestall

: to stop (something) from happening or to cause (something) to happen at a later time
: to act before (someone else) in order to prevent something


fore·​stall | \ fȯr-ˈstȯl How to pronounce forestall (audio) \
forestalled; forestalling

Kids Definition of forestall

: to keep out, interfere with, or prevent by steps taken in advance forestalling problems

More from Merriam-Webster on forestall

Nglish: Translation of forestall for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of forestall for Arabic Speakers


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