[ pri-veyl ]
See synonyms for: prevailprevailedprevailingprevails on

verb (used without object)
  1. to be widespread or current; exist everywhere or generally: Silence prevailed along the funeral route.

  2. to appear or occur as the more important or frequent feature or element; predominate: Green tints prevail in the upholstery.

  1. to be or prove superior in strength, power, or influence (usually followed by over): They prevailed over their enemies in the battle.

  2. to succeed; become dominant; win out: to wish that the right side might prevail.

  3. to use persuasion or inducement successfully: He prevailed upon us to accompany him.

Origin of prevail

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English prevayllen “to grow very strong,” from Latin praevalēre “to be more able,” equivalent to prae- “before, in front” + valēre “to be strong”; see pre-, prevalent

word story For prevail

English prevail comes from the Middle French verb prévaloir, prévaler “to have the advantage, dominate” and Latin praevalēre “to have superior force, weight, or influence, to have the upper hand.” Praevalēre is a compound verb formed from the prefix prae- meaning “before, in front, preeminent” (as here) and valēre “to be powerful, be strong, be strong enough.”
Nearly all of the Middle English spelling variants of Modern English prevail, e.g., prevailen, prevaile, provaile, have their -ai- spelling not from prévaloir, but from Middle English availen “to be of use or advantage” (Modern English avail ).

Other words for prevail

Opposites for prevail

Other words from prevail

  • pre·vail·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use prevail in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for prevail


/ (prɪˈveɪl) /

  1. (often foll by over or against) to prove superior; gain mastery: skill will prevail

  2. to be or appear as the most important feature; be prevalent

  1. to exist widely; be in force

  2. (often foll by on or upon) to succeed in persuading or inducing

Origin of prevail

C14: from Latin praevalēre to be superior in strength, from prae beyond + valēre to be strong

Derived forms of prevail

  • prevailer, noun

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