Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To be greater in strength or influence; triumph: prevailed against the enemy.
  • intransitive v. To be or become effective; win out: hoped justice would prevail.
  • intransitive v. To be most common or frequent; be predominant: a region where snow and ice prevail.
  • intransitive v. To be in force, use, or effect; be current: an ancient tradition that still prevails.
  • intransitive v. To use persuasion or inducement successfully. Often used with on, upon, or with. See Synonyms at persuade.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. 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.
  • v. To be current, widespread or predominant; to have currency or prevalence.
  • v. To succeed in persuading or inducing.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To overcome; to gain the victory or superiority; to gain the advantage; to have the upper hand, or the mastery; to succeed; -- sometimes with over or against.
  • intransitive v. To be in force; to have effect, power, or influence; to be predominant; to have currency or prevalence; to obtain.
  • intransitive v. To persuade or induce; -- with on, upon, or with.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To be superior in strength; hence, to have or gain the advantage, as in a contest or matching of strength; be victorious; triumph; have the upper hand: often followed by over or against.
  • To have or exert superior influence; have a controlling or overmastering authority; be predominant.
  • To operate effectually; be effective; succeed, especially in persuading, inducing, or convincing.
  • To be in force; extend with power or effect; hence, to be prevalent or current.
  • To be currently received or believed; be established.
  • To avail; be of value or service.
  • To avail: used reflexively.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. continue to exist
  • v. be valid, applicable, or true
  • v. use persuasion successfully
  • v. prove superior
  • v. be larger in number, quantity, power, status or importance

Etymologies

Middle English prevailen, from Old French prevaloir, prevaill-, from Latin praevalēre, to be stronger : prae-, pre- + valēre, to be strong; see wal- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I hope the country is finally turning a corner where common sense will once again prevail over the insanity of the last 30 years.

    Why Life is Now More Complicated

  • Will Franklin prevail or will Belfort continue his winning streak?

    Five UFC Fights to Look Forward To | myFiveBest

  • Elena Kagan will likely be a satisfactory selection for the Supreme Court though what truly needs to happen for the National Interest to prevail is for Scalia AND Kennedy to retire within the next year or two.

    Reaction to Kagan comes in

  • In fact, should McCain prevail in 2008, he will be inheriting a legacy of red ink in which Mr. Bush took a projected $5.6 trillion surplus over the next ten years and has left America with a hefty deficit.

    2008 February 10 « Unambiguously Ambidextrous

  • DFC foresees such a fierce competition for dominance of the market between three new generation video game systems — Sony PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox 360 — that predicting which video game console system will prevail is simply impossible at this point.

    Video Game Industry Set for Massive Growth | Impact Lab

  • The spectacle, nothing short of extraordinary, displayed not a decade later, of this nation, one of the nations-one of the most important of nations -- and one which has always advocated peaceful methods, actually spurning the most promising means ever suggested to have peaceful methods prevail, is as startling as it was unexpected.

    The United States and the League of Nations

  • From experience I have come to the conclusion that, though both should be found in the whole range of stories, the dramatic element should prevail from the very nature of the presentation, and also because it reaches the larger number of children, at least of normal children.

    The Art of the Story-Teller

  • The crime which the state commits in allowing such a condition to prevail is as yet unnamed.

    In Times Like These

  • To make my word prevail, there is needed the blood of many. '

    Renaissance in Italy, Volume 1 (of 7) The Age of the Despots

  • U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Thursday that the better-equipped forces of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi will over the long term prevail. reports:

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

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