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Alternative forms[edit]


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). Displaced native Old English rīcsian.


  • 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.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Exodus 17:11:
      And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
    • 2022 February 27, Phil McNulty, “Chelsea 0-0 Liverpool”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Liverpool created a host of chances and had a Joel Matip goal ruled out for a foul and offside in an incident-packed game that went right down to the wire before Jurgen Klopp's side prevailed.
  2. (intransitive) To triumph; to be victorious.
    • 2019 January 14, “Exploring the SCP Foundation: SCP-2935 - O, Death” (0:36 from the start), in The Exploring Series[2], archived from the original on 25 March 2023:
      There are a number of SCPs and tales that look at potential apocalypses, but rarely with such totality as SCP-2935, a parallel dimension in which death prevailed.
  3. (intransitive) To be current, widespread, or predominant; to have currency or prevalence.
    In his day and age, such practices prevailed all over Europe.
  4. (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.
  5. (transitive, obsolete) To avail.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]