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[prev-uh-luh nt] /ˈprɛv ə lənt/
widespread; of wide extent or occurrence; in general use or acceptance.
having the superiority or ascendancy.
Archaic. effectual or efficacious.
Origin of prevalent
1570-80; < Latin praevalent- (stem of praevalēns), present participle of praevalēre to prevail. See pre-, -valent
Related forms
prevalence, prevalentness, noun
prevalently, adverb
nonprevalent, adjective
nonprevalently, adverb
unprevalent, adjective
unprevalently, adverb
1. common, extensive. See current.
1. rare. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for prevalent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It consists in the application of the notions of goblinism as they are prevalent at the time in the group.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • Will the good soul be that in which disorder is prevalent, or that in which there is harmony and order?

    Gorgias Plato
  • And another pleasant feature of excitement was added by the prevalent idea that the Prince had seen and heard the row.

    Phineas Redux Anthony Trollope
  • The climate is tropical, and malaria, with its fever and ague, is prevalent.

    The Last Voyage Lady (Annie Allnutt) Brassey
  • That she was "square-rigged," and generally of the then prevalent style of vessels of her size and class, is altogether probable.

British Dictionary definitions for prevalent


widespread or current
superior in force or power; predominant
Derived Forms
prevalence, prevalentness, noun
prevalently, adverb
Word Origin
C16 (in the sense: powerful): from Latin praevalens very strong, from praevalēre: see prevail
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 prevalent

early 15c., "having great power or force," from Latin praevalentem (nominative praevalens) "of superior strength; mighty," present participle of praevalere "to be more able" (see prevail). Meaning "extensively existing, in general use" is from 1650s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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