[ prev-uh-luhns ]
/ ˈprɛv ə ləns /
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the condition of being prevalent, or widespread: the prevalence of AIDS in developing countries.
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Sometimes prev·a·lent·ness .


non·prev·a·lence, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does prevalence mean?

Prevalence is the state or condition of being widespread or in general use or acceptance.

Prevalence is the noun form of the adjective prevalent, meaning widespread, common, or extensive.

In the context of medicine, prevalence refers to how widespread a disease is—specifically, the total number of cases in a population at a given time.

Example: The prevalence of social media use among teens is often linked to the rise in mental health issues like anxiety.

Where does prevalence come from?

The first records of the word prevalence come from around the early 1600s. It ultimately derives from the Latin praevalēre, meaning “to have superior strength” or “to prevail.” (The word prevail is also based on this word.)

Prevalence can be thought of commonness or widespreadness. In fact, another way to make the adjective prevalent into a noun is the word prevalentness. But the word prevalence is much more … prevalent—meaning it’s much more commonly used. It’s often used in discussions of how widespread things are in society or within a particular culture, like the prevalence of memes on social media or the prevalence of a belief among a certain demographic (specific category of people).

In the context of medicine, prevalence is used in just about the same way, but it involves measuring how widespread a certain disease is in a certain population of people. When scientists find that a disease is prevalent among certain people, they then try to find the reason for that prevalence.

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What are some other forms of prevalence?

What are some synonyms for prevalence?

What are some words that share a root or word element with prevalence?

What are some words that often get used in discussing prevalence?

How is prevalence used in real life?

Fittingly, prevalence is a common word. It’s often used in discussions about widespread cultural phenomena.



Try using prevalence!

Which of the following words is LEAST likely to be used to describe something that’s known for its prevalence?

A. widespread
B. common
C. rare
D. ubiquitous

How to use prevalence in a sentence

Medical definitions for prevalence

[ prĕvə-ləns ]

The total number of cases of a disease in a given population at a specific time.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.