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From Middle English prevailen, from Old French prevaler, from Latin praevaleō (be very able or more able, be superior, prevail), from prae (before) + valeō (be able or powerful).


  • IPA(key): /pɹɪˈveɪl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪl
  • Hyphenation: pre‧vail


prevail (third-person singular simple present prevails, present participle prevailing, simple past and past participle prevailed)

  1. (intransitive) To be superior in strength, dominance, influence or frequency; to have or gain the advantage over others; to have the upper hand; to outnumber others.
    Red colour prevails in the Canadian flag.
  2. (intransitive) To be current, widespread or predominant; to have currency or prevalence.
    In his day and age, such practices prevailed all over Europe.
  3. (intransitive) To succeed in persuading or inducing.
    I prevailed on him to wait.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling:
      Jones began to be very importunate with the lady to unmask; and at length having prevailed, there appeared not Mrs Fitzpatrick, but the Lady Bellaston herself.
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To avail.

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