verb (used with object)

to keep from occurring; avert; hinder: He intervened to prevent bloodshed.
to hinder or stop from doing something: There is nothing to prevent us from going.
Archaic. to act ahead of; forestall.
Archaic. to precede.
Archaic. to anticipate.

verb (used without object)

to interpose a hindrance: He will come if nothing prevents.

Origin of prevent

1375–1425; late Middle English < Latin praeventus (past participle of praevenīre “to anticipate”), equivalent to prae- pre- + ven- (stem of venīre come) + -tus past participle suffix
Related formspre·vent·a·ble, pre·vent·i·ble, adjectivepre·vent·a·bil·ty, nounpre·vent·ing·ly, adverbnon·pre·vent·a·ble, adjectivenon·pre·vent·i·ble, adjectivequa·si-pre·vent·ed, adjectiveun·pre·vent·a·ble, adjectiveun·pre·vent·ed, adjectiveun·pre·vent·i·ble, adjective

Synonyms for prevent

Synonym study

1. Prevent, hamper, hinder, impede refer to different degrees of stoppage of action or progress. To prevent is to stop something effectually by forestalling action and rendering it impossible: to prevent the sending of a message. To hamper is to clog or entangle or put an embarrassing restraint upon: to hamper preparations for a trip. To hinder is to keep back by delaying or stopping progress or action: to hinder the progress of an expedition. To impede is to make difficult the movement or progress of anything by interfering with its proper functioning: to impede a discussion by demanding repeated explanations.

Antonyms for prevent Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for prevented

Contemporary Examples of prevented

Historical Examples of prevented

  • Often they wished to go to a place, but were prevented, as Paul writes, Rom.

  • Of course this could be prevented by moving the camp out of range of this hill.

  • He was prevented from replying by the approach of Simba at the head of eight of the askaris.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • "My dear sir," the stranger exclaimed, but John prevented him from saying any more.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • I could have prevented it, maybe, if I hadn't been so taken up with my own affairs.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

British Dictionary definitions for prevented



(tr) to keep from happening, esp by taking precautionary action
(tr often foll by from) to keep (someone from doing something); hinder; impede
(intr) to interpose or act as a hindrance
(tr) archaic to anticipate or precede
Derived Formspreventable or preventible, adjectivepreventability or preventibility, nounpreventably or preventibly, adverb

Word Origin for prevent

C15: from Latin praevenīre, from prae before + venīre to come
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 prevented



early 15c., "act in anticipation of," from Latin praeventus, past participle of praevenire "come before, anticipate, hinder," in Late Latin also "to prevent," from prae "before" (see pre-) + venire "to come" (see venue). Originally literal; sense of "anticipate to hinder" was in Latin, but not recorded in English until 1540s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper