Definition of forestall in English:



  • 1 Prevent or obstruct (an anticipated event or action) by taking advance action:

    ‘they will present their resignations to forestall a vote of no confidence’
    • ‘Japan's ‘lost decade’ provides vivid testimony to the fact that pervasive government intervention merely forestalls the market clearing mechanism, rather than purging it of its speculative excesses.’
    • ‘An accurate prediction, even though actual debate was forestalled by a campaign of misinformation and intimidation.’
    • ‘To forestall property-tax increases, for instance, some homeowner groups recommended higher business taxes.’
    • ‘While these actions are indeed forestalling a severe downturn, they are significantly increasing the probabilities for much worse down the road.’
    • ‘In addition, thanks to medicine's success in curing disease and forestalling death, it is not clear that we haven't produced a culture in which death is even more unacceptable and more feared than ever before.’
    • ‘But, to forestall a rebellion among the unemployed, they skew the numbers each month to make the problem seem far less than it is.’
    • ‘Republican efforts to repeal estate taxes and lower income taxes - predominantly of benefit to the wealthy - is now being marketed to the public as a way to stimulate the economy and to forestall an economic downturn.’
    • ‘But wise investment in more sensible equipment can help forestall disasters that undermine the confidence of citizens in their institutions.’
    • ‘The very idea made her heart race, but he raised a finger, forestalling her outburst.’
    • ‘So what I hope out of this will come, further cooperation and more affective cooperation than we saw in evidence, that might have forestalled the incident today.’
    • ‘Why, I even remember back to the end of 2001, when the general mood seemed to favor bold action to forestall future catastrophe.’
    • ‘In order to forestall this unhappy eventuality, she proposes restricting the use of the money to child care, education for the parent, or retirement benefits for the parent.’
    • ‘I've claimed to be a member of all sorts of wacky political movements in order to forestall political polls.’
    • ‘Can you imagine what these good liberals would have said if it had been America that was insisting on forestalling elections because the results could be dangerous or unpredictable?’
    • ‘Immense US efforts at state-building in Afghanistan remain necessary to forestall this disaster.’
    • ‘Agricultural authorities, it appears, are deaf to the pleas of farmers desperate to forestall an impending disaster.’
    • ‘In face of this social misery, the ruling coalition has resorted to forestalling parliamentary elections and thwarting an inquiry into corruption.’
    • ‘Immediately after winning the battle, he resumed the policies that had forestalled military success.’
    • ‘Concentrated oil wealth at the top has forestalled political change.’
    • ‘That being the case, Christians must welcome, rather than object to, any measure to forestall fraudulent conversions.’
    pre-empt, get in before, get ahead of, steal a march on, anticipate, second-guess, nip in the bud, thwart, frustrate, foil, stave off, ward off, fend off, avert, preclude, obviate, prevent, intercept, check, block, hinder, impede, obstruct
    beat someone to it, beat someone to the draw, beat someone to the punch
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Act in advance of (someone) in order to prevent them from doing something:
      ‘he would have spoken but David forestalled him’
      • ‘You'll see a solution as to whether or not you can cut him down, to throw him, to avoid what is happening, to forestall him before he can actually bring the attack to bear.’
      • ‘He opened his mouth, to address that - again - but she forestalled him.’
      • ‘Or you can advance seemingly strongly but with a reserved spirit, forestalling him with the reserve.’
      • ‘He reached to touch me and I pulled back a little, forestalling him.’
      • ‘So I put up a hand to forestall him and said, ‘It's working quite well, thank you.’’
      • ‘To forestall him, however, supporters of the fallen ministers in Paris were now planning a very different sort of coup: popular intervention on a scale not seen since the ill-fated Champ de Mars petition the year before.’
      • ‘I opened my mouth to argue with him, although he was right, but Timur's next words forestalled me.’
      • ‘Jenica turned, eyes blazing, to Brian, but he forestalled her.’
      • ‘We will make a few suggestions here in an attempt to forestall readers from making avoidable mistakes.’
      • ‘Chris looked to interrupt, but Sam held up a hand, forestalling him.’
      • ‘He would have spoken, but David forestalled him.’
      • ‘He'd opened his mouth to snap back a reply when he was forestalled by a resounding yelp from the creature.’
      • ‘He seemed about to speak, but Rowena forestalled him with a kiss.’
      • ‘But I am writing these lines while I have the chance to do so, before events forestall me.’
      • ‘I don't want her reporting this car to the police, and I didn't know what else to offer to forestall her.’
      • ‘He closed his eyes, raising a hand to forestall her.’
      • ‘She touched his tears with a hand that trembled, but when she tried to speak, he forestalled her, touching his fingers to her lips.’
      • ‘This is to forestall your opponent by starting an action before he begins attack on you.’
      • ‘He recovered on the 19th, but by then, Stalin, whose confidence in his generals was always easily shaken, had decided to hedge his bet by forestalling the Americans.’
      • ‘Hoping to forestall Henry by attacking and demoralising his supporters, Stephen laid siege to Wallingford Castle on the Thames, a dozen miles south-east of Oxford.’
    2. 1.2historical Buy up (goods) in order to profit by an enhanced price.
      • ‘Although the laws against engrossing and forestalling were repealed in 1772, regulation of wages and prices still remained on the statute book and consumers could also appeal to the common law.’


Old English foresteall ‘an ambush’(see fore- and stall). As a verb the earliest sense ( Middle English) was ‘intercept and buy up goods before they reach the market, so as to raise the price’ (formerly an offence).