Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To keep from happening: took steps to prevent the strike.
  • transitive v. To keep (someone) from doing something; impede: prevented us from winning.
  • transitive v. Archaic To anticipate or counter in advance.
  • transitive v. Archaic To come before; precede.
  • intransitive v. To present an obstacle: There will be a picnic if nothing prevents.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To go before; to precede; hence, to go before as a guide; to direct.
  • transitive v. To be beforehand with; to anticipate.
  • transitive v. To intercept; to hinder; to frustrate; to stop; to thwart.
  • intransitive v. To come before the usual time.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To go before; be earlier than; anticipate; forestall.
  • To take previous measures against; hence, to frustrate; disappoint; evade; escape.
  • To hinder from action by the opposition of obstacles; impede; restrain; check; preclude: generally followed by from.
  • To keep from existing or occurring; render impossible.
  • Synonyms To preclude, bar, debar.
  • To come beforehand; come before others, or before the usual time.
  • To interpose a hindrance, especially an insurmountable obstacle; interpose an effectual check; hinder.

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

  • v. keep from happening or arising; make impossible
  • v. stop (someone or something) from doing something or being in a certain state

Etymologies

Middle English preventen, to anticipate, from Latin praevenīre, praevent- : prae-, pre- + venīre, to come; see gwā- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English preventen ("anticipate"), from Latin praeventus, perfect passive participle of praeveniō ("anticipate"), from prae ("before") + veniō ("come"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • So the best way to prevent is to stop people from feeding them with bread, chips and other stuff.

    EXTRALIFE – By Scott Johnson - Today’s Comic: Bread Trouble

  • Good men are afraid of sin, and are in care to prevent it; and the most effectual way to prevent is to hide God's word in our hearts, that we may answer every temptation, as our Master did, with, It is written, may oppose God's precepts to the dominion of sin, his promises to its allurements, and his threatenings to its menaces.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume III (Job to Song of Solomon)

  • Seeing your country change around you in ways that neither you nor your elected representatives can prevent is frightening, especially if you are older, white, and conservative by nature.

    Gary Hart: Fear Itself, and Why We Should Fear it

  • The NCVYS chief executive, Susanne Rauprich, said: By failing to take a comprehensive view of the cumulative impact that the cuts agenda places on young people, we are risking unintended consequences that could in the long term prevent a large number of young people, and in particular those that are already disadvantaged, from realising their true potential.

    'Savage' cuts to youth spending could rob a generation of chances

  • The short slogans repeated over and over again prevent everyone, including the politicians holding the town hall meetings, from being able to have a discission or express a complex view point.

    Democrats accuse GOP of inciting mobs

  • Just as a football game is not decided by how hard a team, that loses a game by 10 points, fought back at the end of the game when the other team was in prevent defense, the Democratic nomination is not decided on the basis of who was able to make up some ground by resorting to extremely negative campaign tactics.

    Blitzer: Should Clinton's swing state edge be a factor?

  • James Fellows: That a man who himself served in an ill-advised war should now lose a son to a war the father tried to prevent is almost too painful to contemplate.

    Easter Lemming Liberal News

  • Unknown to them, they're not the first ones there, and the suicide they're trying to prevent is part of a game played by forces more powerful than they imagine.

    Ten Books I'm Reccommending for the Norton Award

  • The easiest poverty to prevent is poverty that is close by.

    Coyote Blog » 2005 » July

  • Not only did Oklahoma's win prevent Sugar Bowl champion Miami from gaining

    Stoops' defense does its job

Comments

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

  • It has two meanings, depending on the time period of usage: to make something happen; to keep something from happening. An ironic semantic drift.
    -Rich Coffeen, The Discipling of Mytra.

    August 14, 2009