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[pri-veyl] /prɪˈveɪl/
verb (used without object)
to be widespread or current; exist everywhere or generally:
Silence prevailed along the funeral route.
to appear or occur as the more important or frequent feature or element; predominate:
Green tints prevail in the upholstery.
to be or prove superior in strength, power, or influence (usually followed by over):
They prevailed over their enemies in the battle.
to succeed; become dominant; win out:
to wish that the right side might prevail.
to use persuasion or inducement successfully:
He prevailed upon us to accompany him.
Origin of prevail
1350-1400; Middle English prevayllen to grow very strong < Latin praevalēre to be more able, equivalent to prae- pre- + valēre to be strong; see prevalent
Related forms
prevailer, noun
2. preponderate. 3. overcome.
3. lose. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for prevailed
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • “You shall,” he cried, and his strong will prevailed over her more and more.

    A Double Knot George Manville Fenn
  • And in Svartheim it was told forever after how Sindri and Brock had prevailed.

    The Children of Odin Padraic Colum
  • It was a curious custom which prevailed in the Amity church.

    By the Light of the Soul Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • Mrs. Close's maid was prevailed on to sleep in her mistress's room.

    The Silent Bullet Arthur B. Reeve
  • To return nearer home, the worship of the tree has prevailed at one time or another in every country of Europe.

    The Sacred Tree J. H. Philpot
British Dictionary definitions for prevailed


verb (intransitive)
often foll by over or against. to prove superior; gain mastery: skill will prevail
to be or appear as the most important feature; be prevalent
to exist widely; be in force
often foll by on or upon. to succeed in persuading or inducing
Derived Forms
prevailer, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin praevalēre to be superior in strength, from prae beyond + valēre to be strong
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for prevailed



c.1400, "be successful; be efficacious," from Old French prevaleir (Modern French prévaloir) and directly from Latin praevalere "be stronger, have greater power," from prae "before" (see pre-) + valere "have power, be strong" (see valiant). Spelling in English perhaps influenced by avail. Related: Prevailed; prevailing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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