predominant: prevailing winds.
generally current: the prevailing opinion.
having superior power or influence.

Origin of prevailing

First recorded in 1580–90; prevail + -ing2
Related formspre·vail·ing·ly, adverbpre·vail·ing·ness, nounun·pre·vail·ing, adjective

Synonyms for prevailing

1. preponderant, preponderating, dominant; prevalent. 2. common. 4. effective.

Synonym study

2. See current.

Antonyms for prevailing

2. rare.



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 formspre·vail·er, noun

Synonyms for prevail

Antonyms for prevail

3. lose. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for prevailing

Contemporary Examples of prevailing

Historical Examples of prevailing

  • For they were in hopes of prevailing upon my father to forbid his visits.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • No human being but YOU could have any chance of prevailing with her.

    Lady Susan

    Jane Austen

  • I will see Mr Adams, and I make no doubt of prevailing with him.

  • For long weeks these were to be the prevailing conditions in our homeward march.

  • My reader must not imagine that the prevailing silence of the house oppressed me.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for prevailing



generally accepted; widespreadthe prevailing opinion
most frequent or conspicuous; predominantthe prevailing wind is from the north
Derived Formsprevailingly, adverb


verb (intr)

(often foll by over or against) to prove superior; gain masteryskill 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 Formsprevailer, noun

Word Origin for prevail

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

Word Origin and History for prevailing

1590s, "vigorous;" 1680s, "widely accepted," present participle adjective from prevail (v.).



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