[ fohr-stawl, fawr- ]
/ foʊrˈstɔl, fɔr- /

verb (used with object)

to prevent, hinder, or thwart by action in advance: to forestall a riot by deploying police.
to act beforehand with or get ahead of; anticipate.
to buy up (goods) in advance in order to increase the price when resold.
to prevent sales at (a fair, market, etc.) by buying up or diverting goods.

Nearby words

  1. forest reserve,
  2. forest service,
  3. forest tent caterpillar,
  4. forestaff,
  5. forestage,
  6. forestalling,
  7. forestation,
  8. forestay,
  9. forestaysail,
  10. forested

Origin of forestall

1350–1400; Middle English forstallen, verbal derivative of forstalle, Old English foresteall intervention (to defeat justice), waylaying. See fore-, stall2

Related formsfore·stall·er, nounfore·stall·ment, forestal·ment, nounun·fore·stalled, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for forestall

British Dictionary definitions for forestall


/ (fɔːˈstɔːl) /

verb (tr)

to delay, stop, or guard against beforehand
to anticipate
  1. to prevent or hinder sales at (a market, etc) by buying up merchandise in advance, etc
  2. to buy up (merchandise) for profitable resaleCompare corner (def. 21)
Derived Formsforestaller, nounforestalment or esp US forestallment, noun

Word Origin for forestall

C14 forestallen to waylay, from Old English foresteall an ambush, from fore- in front of + steall place

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

Word Origin and History for forestall



late 14c. (implied in forestalling), "to lie in wait for;" also "to intercept goods before they reach public markets and buy them privately" (formerly a crime; mid-14c. in this sense in Anglo-French), from Old English noun foresteall "intervention, hindrance (of justice); an ambush, a waylaying," literally "a standing before (someone)," from fore- "before" + steall "standing position" (see stall (n.1)). Modern sense of "to anticipate and delay" is from 1580s. Related: Forestalled; forestalling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper