from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To delay, hinder, or prevent (an event, for example) by taking action beforehand: synonym: prevent.
  • transitive verb To delay, hinder, or prevent (someone) from doing something by taking action beforehand.
  • transitive verb To prevent or hinder normal sales in (a market), as by buying up merchandise.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To buy up, as merchandise, before it has reached the market or before market-hours, and hence by taking advantage of others in any way, with the intention of selling again at an unduly increased price.
  • In law, to obstruct or stop up, as away; intercept on the road.
  • To diminish; deprive by something preceding.
  • To take or bring forth in advance of something or somebody else; hinder by preoccupation or prevention; anticipate; prevent or counteract beforehand.
  • Synonyms To monopolize, engross, preoccupy.
  • noun A footboard.
  • noun The lookout man who walks before the operator and his victim when a garrote-robbery is to be committed. , verb

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To take beforehand, or in advance; to anticipate.
  • transitive verb To take possession of, in advance of some one or something else, to the exclusion or detriment of the latter; to get ahead of; to preoccupy; also, to exclude, hinder, or prevent, by prior occupation, or by measures taken in advance.
  • transitive verb rare To deprive; -- with of.
  • transitive verb (Eng. Law) To obstruct or stop up, as a way; to stop the passage of on highway; to intercept on the road, as goods on the way to market.
  • transitive verb to buy or contract for merchandise or provision on its way to market, with the intention of selling it again at a higher price; to dissuade persons from bringing their goods or provisions there; or to persuade them to enhance the price when there. This was an offense at law in England until 1844.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To prevent, delay or hinder something by taking precautionary or anticipatory measures; to avert.
  • verb transitive To preclude or bar from happening, render impossible.
  • verb archaic To purchase the complete supply of a good, particularly foodstuffs, in order to charge a monopoly price.
  • verb To anticipate, to act foreseeingly.
  • noun An ambush; plot; an interception; waylaying; rescue.
  • noun Something situated or placed in front.

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

  • verb keep from happening or arising; make impossible
  • verb act in advance of; deal with ahead of time


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

[Middle English forestallen, to waylay and rob, from forestal, highway robbery, ambush, from Old English foresteall : fore-, fore- + steall, position; see stel- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English forestallen ("to forestall, intercept, ambush, way-lay"), from forestalle ("a forestalling, interception"), from Old English foresteall ("intervention, hindrance of justice, ambush"), from fore- ("ahead of, before") + steall ("position").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English forstal, from Old English foresteall ("an intervention, hindrance (of justice), ambush, assault, offence of waylaying on the highway, fine for such an offence, resistance, opposition"), equivalent to fore- +‎ stall.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word forestall.


  • So rather than sort of eliminating politics it really might just kind of forestall it and really kind of rile it up over the next 48 months.

    CNN Transcript Aug 13, 2008 2008

  • While the word "forestall" does permit a degree of discretion, it seems incongruous to recognize the President's power to repel attacks and yet force him to wait until the first gun is fired before implementing adequate countermeasures.

    Sen. Eagleton & War Powers Eagleton, Thomas F. 1973

  • Mr. Stone then takes issue with S. 440's recognition of the President's power to "forestall" an attack on the US or our Forces abroad.

    Sen. Eagleton & War Powers Eagleton, Thomas F. 1973

  • S. 440 carefully circumscribes the President's discretion to "forestall" by placing the burden on him to prove that an attack is "direct and imminent."

    Sen. Eagleton & War Powers Eagleton, Thomas F. 1973

  • Portugal, in an attempt to 'forestall' a debt crisis, has already begun imposing austerity measures, including "cutting welfare benefits and government hiring as well as selling assets and raising taxes."

    Signs of the Times 2010

  • Which d'you think, 'forestall' or 'outmaneuver'? "

    Operation Luna Anderson, Poul, 1926- 1999

  • His main feelings were rivalry with Wallace ” the feeling of rivalry was very strong in him ” and being "terribly anxious" that Wallace would "forestall" him (he was also anxious because of illness and death in his family).

    Darwin's Complaint Colp, Ralph 1977

  • In sum, while religion did not create or encourage the feminist revolution of the last half century, neither did religion do much to forestall it, even among the most fervent opponents of the near-simultaneous revolution in sexual morality.

    American Grace Robert D. Putnam 2010

  • Did religion stand prophetically on the side of the poor demanding social justice (as some Christians believe Jesus did), or did religion forestall social reform, providing deadening consolation for economic injustice (as Karl Marx argued in speaking of religion as the “opiate of the masses”)?

    American Grace Robert D. Putnam 2010

  • "Our studies show that neurofeedback in early stages of deployment can actually forestall descent into PTSD, as well as providing dramatic results for both active duty soldiers and veterans suffering from this debilitating condition."

    Craig Newmark: Neurofeedback treatment for PTSD? Craig Newmark 2011


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.