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[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.
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
prevailer, noun
2. preponderate. 3. overcome.
3. lose. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for prevails
  • Journey toward the ocean floor, where eternal darkness prevails.
  • Nature, the brute fact of existence the ultimate ontology, prevails.
  • The answer will depend on how much industry cronyism prevails.
  • In terms of body type, in soccer and baseball, no particular one prevails.
  • In the marketplace of ideas the truth always prevails.
  • In each new case, a court has to decide whether the government's justification prevails over the interest in free speech.
  • That's the goal, and the company that can do that first is going to be the one that prevails.
  • Those advances would be a welcome change from the messy, difficult-to-track record keeping that prevails in health care today.
  • It is no disparagement to truth, that it can only prevail where reason prevails.
  • As long as the bipolar politics of food prevails, fixes to our nation's obesity crisis will remain elusive.
British Dictionary definitions for prevails


verb (intransitive)
often foll by over or against. to prove superior; gain mastery: skill 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
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
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Word Origin and History for prevails



c.1400, "be successful; be efficacious," from Old French prevaleir (Modern French prévaloir) and directly from Latin praevalere "be stronger, have greater power," from prae "before" (see pre-) + valere "have power, be strong" (see valiant). Spelling in English perhaps influenced by avail. Related: Prevailed; prevailing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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