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[prev-uh-luh nt] /ˈprɛv ə lənt/
widespread; of wide extent or occurrence; in general use or acceptance.
having the superiority or ascendancy.
Archaic. effectual or efficacious.
Origin of prevalent
1570-80; < Latin praevalent- (stem of praevalēns), present participle of praevalēre to prevail. See pre-, -valent
Related forms
prevalence, prevalentness, noun
prevalently, adverb
nonprevalent, adjective
nonprevalently, adverb
unprevalent, adjective
unprevalently, adverb
1. common, extensive.
1. rare.
Synonym Study
1. See current. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for prevalent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • To assuage remorse, she sought to give evidence as to a prevalent sympathy.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • By what means has it become so prevalent among our modern metaphysicians?

  • The days of prevalent cigar-smoking and tobacco-chewing had not come.

    The Nation in a Nutshell George Makepeace Towle
  • The power of Nationalities and Acts of Parliament is also a prevalent superstition.

    Self-Help Samuel Smiles
  • Will the good soul be that in which disorder is prevalent, or that in which there is harmony and order?

    Gorgias Plato
British Dictionary definitions for prevalent


widespread or current
superior in force or power; predominant
Derived Forms
prevalence, prevalentness, noun
prevalently, adverb
Word Origin
C16 (in the sense: powerful): from Latin praevalens very strong, from praevalēre: see prevail
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 prevalent

early 15c., "having great power or force," from Latin praevalentem (nominative praevalens) "of superior strength; mighty," present participle of praevalere "to be more able" (see prevail). Meaning "extensively existing, in general use" is from 1650s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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