Definition of intervene in English:



[no object]
  • 1Take part in something so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events.

    ‘he acted outside his authority when he intervened in the dispute’
    with infinitive ‘their forces intervened to halt the attack’
    • ‘A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also denied the Government had intervened in the talks.’
    • ‘Known paedophiles as well as those wrongly suspected of the crime have been attacked, culminating in an assault in Hampshire which could have spun out of control had the police not intervened in force.’
    • ‘A watershed was reached when NATO forces intervened in Kosovo in 1999.’
    • ‘After all, French governments of the Right have frequently intervened in their former colonies in Africa.’
    • ‘The Labour Relations Commission intervened in the dispute last week and invited both sides to enter into discussions.’
    • ‘‘She intervened in all of them, and always with disastrous results,’ he immediately replied, enjoying my surprise.’
    • ‘A passer-by who saved a man from being savaged by his own dog and an off-duty policeman who intervened in a nightclub brawl were today honoured for their bravery.’
    • ‘This will mean that not only do fewer houses get built, but people stuck in wells will be much worse off than if the government had never intervened in the first place.’
    • ‘The attack came almost exactly a year after an armed man threatened to shoot a passer-by who intervened in another failed armed robbery at the store.’
    • ‘I've intervened in fights before, and chased a thief.’
    • ‘The clergy also intervened in disputes through the provision of ecclesiastical sanctuary.’
    • ‘He has intervened in Africa without reference to the UN.’
    • ‘She was receiving £20 a week from him until the CSA intervened in 1993.’
    • ‘The federal government intervened in labor disputes to prevent deaths, not just to interfere.’
    • ‘A drunken man assaulted two special constables when they intervened in a row in the town centre, Swindon magistrates heard.’
    • ‘US forces intervened in the mid-1960s to prop up the stooge government of South Vietnam, against the North.’
    • ‘He remembers how the Rapid Action Force intervened in time to scatter the mob and help him live to tell the tale.’
    • ‘Similarly, when NATO forces intervened in Kosovo, many in the international community supported the action.’
    • ‘For example, in 1845, as in 1806-07, British forces intervened in the River Plate.’
    • ‘The researcher intervened in 12 cases to prevent an error reaching the patient.’
    intercede, involve oneself, get involved, interpose oneself, insinuate oneself, step in, cut in
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of an event or circumstance) occur as a delay or obstacle to something being done.
      ‘Christmas intervened and the investigation was suspended’
      • ‘We decided to walk up through Sweden Bridge and eventually on to Fairfield but near disaster intervened.’
      • ‘After that, the general accepted wisdom is perhaps that the election will intervene, and then so most likely a rate rise around about November, and possibly another one in December.’
      • ‘Sadly, tragedy intervenes in the form of the bitterly jealous Richard, whose fateful confrontation with Frank triggers a devastating string of events that forever changes the lives of all involved.’
      • ‘Armed with a hard-won scholarship, he trained as a schoolteacher, and might have remained one if illness and death had not intervened.’
      • ‘When a lead character is put in real jeopardy, there can be no question that some circumstance will intervene and preserve the order of right and wrong.’
      • ‘Lunch intervened, and a good long Sunday afternoon nap, and by the early evening I was ready to transfer the thing to the computer.’
      • ‘Synchronistic events frequently intervene to warn us if we are on the wrong path.’
      • ‘Then some external circumstance intervenes - someone close to us dies or we ourselves receive a real scare.’
      • ‘While he was undertaking research for his doctorate political events intervened to interrupt his studies.’
      • ‘The presentation was a set of cufflinks along with a copy signed by all present of his programme for government, a programme unfinished after scandal intervened.’
      • ‘This is the point where the programme intervened.’
      • ‘I had to leave town, so I did, and then circumstances intervened and I wasn't able to attend high school elsewhere.’
      • ‘The present study focuses on how a surprising event intervening between prime and probe can affect negative priming.’
      • ‘Scarborough councillors had been recommended to rule on the scheme before local elections intervened.’
      • ‘But before natural death intervened, the desire to kill him with my two hands swept over me.’
      • ‘They are aristocrats whose privileges are exercised in secret, and only for a short space of time, before pregnancy or addiction or disaster intervene and they become like their mothers.’
      • ‘Under Labour's bill, consideration of development plans would be suspended after local elections intervene, so incoming members would have time to consider the plan.’
      • ‘Sadly he did not have much time to enjoy the fruits of his labours as death intervened.’
      • ‘I don't know if you can understand this, but there were many times in my husband's life when circumstances intervened and helped him.’
      • ‘He had been going to make the trip, but circumstances intervened.’
      occur, happen, take place, arise, crop up, materialize, come about
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Interrupt verbally.
      with direct speech ‘‘It's true!’ he intervened’
      • ‘My friend then intervened with the verbal equivalent of a good slap across the face by saying things like pull yourself together, man! and for God-sake, shut up!’
      cut in, cut in on, break in, break in on, barge in, barge in on, intrude, intrude on, interfere, interfere with, intervene in
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Law Become involved in a lawsuit as a third party.
      • ‘It is not easy for third parties to intervene in bilateral contentious litigation.’
      • ‘If decisions are taken which are inconsistent with or disregard those terms the courts can intervene and require the decisions to be taken again in very much the same way as they intervene on judicial review.’
      • ‘Then the Justice Department decides whether to intervene and litigate the suit for itself.’
      • ‘The legislation could have given a right of appeal to the objectors in the same way as it is given to applicants but this it has not done and they are dependent on the limited powers of this court to intervene by way of judicial review.’
      • ‘But under section 78A of the Judiciary Act the Attorney-General intervenes upon behalf of the Commonwealth.’
  • 2usually as adjective interveningOccur in the time between events.

    ‘to occupy the intervening months she took a job in a hospital’
    • ‘The ages of charcoal deposits suggest instead that prairie fires occurred during intervening wet periods, with each wet-dry cycle lasting more than a century each.’
    • ‘These were irregular, and estimates for intervening years were estimated through linear interpolation between estimates.’
    • ‘The first sample is collected at generation and the last sample at generation T. Any samples drawn at intervening generations may be evenly or irregularly spaced in time.’
    • ‘It would likewise be odd that, in the 11 intervening years, he would have been totally oblivious to the drink's inclusion in cookbooks and on menus.’
    • ‘Readers should note that the dates of records in this digest are given when known, but that they are covering dates which do not necessarily indicate the presence of records for all intervening years.’
    • ‘In intervening years, seed crops were dramatically less.’
    • ‘Those who became more fit during those intervening years reduced their risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome by 50 percent.’
    • ‘It is simply a repugnance on the part of any lawyer to the idea that one can simply take a period in gross at any point and apply it many, many years later to create a right which might be quite inconsistent with intervening events.’
    • ‘The Portlaoise Guides and Brownies were founded in 1977 and in the 25 intervening years they have gone from strength to strength.’
    • ‘And, world class sportspersons they might be, but I bet none of them spent time keeping fit during these six intervening months.’
    • ‘This raises the possibility that intervening events could have influenced the outcome in individual cases.’
    • ‘In the intervening years, May Day has become ensconced in international workers' movements.’
    • ‘The disorder in children is likely more severe than in adults, with many children manic and depressed at the same time and ill for years without intervening periods of wellness.’
    • ‘In the 15 intervening years, what has changed in Bradford?’
    • ‘It was clear that the document could not be a ‘final’ account given that we were still on site and so intervening events could effect our actual carrying out of the works.’
    • ‘In other instances, intervening years and the need to balance books have allowed the players who have been over the course, and their experience, to seep away before being further utilised.’
    • ‘The low-probability intervening event did eliminate negative priming, but did so by slowing performance in the baseline condition relative to all other conditions.’
    • ‘The two intervening weeks gives those carrying bumps and bruises a little more time to mend and Rome should give Williams his first points.’
    • ‘Later, when this image recurs, the papers have been invested with new meaning by intervening events.’
    • ‘That makes six intervening years in which the senator could have alerted us to this lurking danger to national security.’
    1. 2.1 Be situated between things.
      ‘they heard the sound of distant gunfire, muffled by the intervening trees’
      • ‘The question remains, why would males outnumber females in northern Mexico and southern Central America, but be outnumbered by females in intervening areas?’
      • ‘Undulating terrain and intervening crests require a large number of observers located on dominating heights to cover the entire area of operations.’
      • ‘Our destination is at 900 ft which doesn't sound much of a climb, but there are two intervening valleys, both very much worth the effort.’
      • ‘Down the hall, separated by a cordon sanitaire of three intervening rooms, yet another lawyer was ploughing through Butler's work, also using pen and paper.’


Late 16th century (in the sense ‘come in as an extraneous factor or thing’): from Latin intervenire, from inter- ‘between’ + venire ‘come’.