[fohr-stawl, fawr-]

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.

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

Synonyms for forestall Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for forestall

Contemporary Examples of forestall

Historical Examples of forestall

  • After this she would be on her guard, forestall Martin, do tenderly what he would do harshly.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • He must straight to Rosamund to forestall the tale that others would carry to her.

    The Sea-Hawk

    Raphael Sabatini

  • He could see it forming, and went on hurriedly to forestall it.

  • Nettie rose when they approached her to forestall their questions.

    The Doctor's Family

    Mrs. (Margaret) Oliphant

  • Jim turned up his coat collar to forestall a possible repetition.

British Dictionary definitions for forestall


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