[ pri-vey-ling ]
/ prɪˈveɪ lɪŋ /


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

Origin of prevailing

First recorded in 1580–90; prevail + -ing2

Related forms

pre·vail·ing·ly, adverbpre·vail·ing·ness, nounun·pre·vail·ing, adjective

Synonym study

2. See current.

Definition for prevailing (2 of 2)


[ pri-veyl ]
/ prɪˈveɪl /

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 forms

pre·vail·er, noun

Word story

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

Examples from the Web for prevailing

British Dictionary definitions for prevailing (1 of 2)


/ (prɪˈveɪlɪŋ) /


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

Derived Forms

prevailingly, adverb

British Dictionary definitions for prevailing (2 of 2)


/ (prɪˈveɪl) /

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 Forms

prevailer, 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