Definition of prevent in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Keep (something) from happening or arising.

    ‘action must be taken to prevent further accidents’
    • ‘Too often one finds that two or three players make the same runs into space when a little bit of thought would have prevented it happening.’
    • ‘Perhaps if she and her parents could have had the help and support needed it might have gone a long way in preventing this tragedy from happening.’
    • ‘Anything that can prevent a tragedy from happening should be carefully adhered to.’
    • ‘And he made an impassioned plea for changes to be made to prevent a similar tragedy happening again.’
    • ‘I think that avoidable deaths like these could be prevented if people could stop smoking publicly.’
    • ‘But her experiences made her determined to prevent the same thing happening to others.’
    • ‘When my wife and I were mugged someone got a police officer in no time but we should be trying to prevent the attacks happening.’
    • ‘Ultimately, it was unable to prevent the Soviet invasion of the Baltic states in 1940.’
    • ‘They could plan how it must happen; they turned the ship of state around and prevented it from being wrecked on the rocks of revenge.’
    • ‘To compound matters he was unable to prevent the club from being relegated last season.’
    • ‘The union was unable to prevent the strike, but it is instructive to look at how it was conducted.’
    • ‘The prime focus for us is to prevent them happening in the first place.’
    • ‘Surprise checks by the police, during day and night, can go a long way in checking the menace, thus preventing fatal road accidents.’
    • ‘We talk about it now, we know it's there, we have a small army of social workers dedicated to identifying it and preventing it from happening again.’
    • ‘It may involve going to Pearson Airport to try to prevent a deportation from happening.’
    • ‘New security guidelines and technology are being put in place to prevent a similar problem happening again.’
    • ‘We rang all our news outlets to explain the difficulties to them and are doing all we can to prevent the same thing happening again.’
    • ‘Unable to prevent the sliding, the authorities had no choice but to abandon the project.’
    • ‘Each is a tragedy, and it is right to seek solutions to why it happened, and to try to prevent them happening again.’
    • ‘As with most management problems, the key to preventing a crisis from happening is early recognition.’
    stop, put a stop to, avert, nip in the bud, fend off, turn aside, stave off, ward off, head off, shut out, block, intercept, halt, arrest, check, stay
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Make (someone or something) unable to do something.
      ‘window locks won't prevent a determined burglar from getting in’
      • ‘It prevents people from stopping and loitering there for all hours of the night and deciding what mischief they're going to get up to.’
      • ‘I could have stopped the invasion where it was… but something prevented me.’
      • ‘This widespread belief prevents us from being on guard as ads besiege us.’
      • ‘Several neighbours rushed to help the Brownes but they were unable to prevent the men escaping.’
      • ‘Taylor's slip prevented him from intercepting Robert's cross and a scrum of bodies stopped the ball crossing the line.’
      • ‘Develop your plan - then make a back up plan in case the crisis prevents you from using your preferred location and team.’
      • ‘Checks were made in the roof space but fire spread prevented us from entering the attic.’
      • ‘Decorum prevents me from providing you with specific examples.’
      • ‘In a desperate attempt to restrain him she then sat on him to try to prevent him from moving.’
      • ‘They have blocked her driveway, preventing her family from returning home.’
      • ‘And yet the checks designed to prevent such people being employed in schools raised no alarms.’
      • ‘Parents should also ensure their fences and gates are secure to prevent children from getting out.’
      • ‘It is in my judgment equally likely that he has some mental or psychological block that simply prevents him from considering any other point of view.’
      • ‘Real courage is not shooting people down, but preventing them from shooting.’
      • ‘Drooping fatty tissue from her stomach area extends from her body and prevents her from walking, she and Turner say.’
      • ‘Worsening eyesight prevents her from seeing the screen easily and lately she has been reading with the aid of a magnifying glass.’
      • ‘He said his client did not understand that the order preventing him from buying alcohol stopped him from entering pubs, and he had only wanted a soft drink.’
      • ‘Well ok, it was only a dream, but the point is it stopped me getting a good night's sleep, which prevented me from writing to my full capacity today.’
      • ‘It was made without notice and so excluded the defendant from the process and prevented him from challenging it, he said.’
      • ‘Ricin works by getting inside a person's cells and preventing them from making necessary proteins.’
      • ‘Frustration is a blockage, you are prevented from fulfilling your desires.’
      • ‘When it did eventually get underway there were several red flag incidents, stopping the session and preventing anyone really getting into their rhythm.’
      • ‘In his introduction, Hughes says that this nightmare was necessary for him to overcome the block that had prevented him from writing the book.’
      • ‘But on the margin, it prevents a lot of people from taking steps that might lead to bankruptcy and deprivation.’
      • ‘This prevents him from being able to negotiate with other European leaders from anything resembling a position of strength.’
      • ‘This would also save NHS resources by preventing patients from being unnecessarily added to waiting lists.’
      • ‘There's nothing in anything that was done last night that prevents us from filibustering somebody that's extreme.’
      • ‘Scenario 3: A flight or other travel delay prevents you from arriving at the dock before the ship sails.’
      • ‘Once home, Charlie's connection to family prevents him from collapsing in racial self-hatred when he is unable to find work.’
      • ‘As if on cue, a tire started going flat Saturday, but a timely pit stop prevented him from losing much position.’
      • ‘The police are there to pick up the pieces, to find the perpetrator and see that justice prevents him from doing it again.’
      • ‘Can revulsion be classified as an adaptive mechanism that prevents us from coming into contact with contaminants?’
      • ‘Fortunately his girth prevents him from even thinking about scaling the bookcase, so the back of the futon is about as much of a Matterhorn as he can manage.’
      • ‘Too often I find that when it comes to matters of faith my reason overwhelms my emotions and prevents me from responding with true charity.’
      • ‘However, none of that prevents me from honoring the courage and sacrifice of my Confederate ancestors.’
      • ‘He was then arrested and grabbed by the throat to prevent him swallowing anything.’
      • ‘It should be noted that her inability to perceive reality prevents her from understanding that she is the cause of her problems.’
      • ‘I'll confess my own agoraphobia, which prevents me from enjoying opening nights of popular movies.’
      • ‘PIN-protect your mobile phone to prevent anyone checking your text messages or address book.’
      • ‘The purple dye stays on the finger for about a week to prevent anyone trying to vote a second time.’
      stop, put a stop to, avert, nip in the bud, fend off, turn aside, stave off, ward off, head off, shut out, block, intercept, halt, arrest, check, stay
      View synonyms
  • 2archaic (of God) go before (someone) with spiritual guidance and help.

    • ‘The abiding Spirit prevents a humanistic, rationalistic understanding of truth.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘act in anticipation of’): from Latin praevent- ‘preceded, hindered’, from the verb praevenire, from prae ‘before’ + venire ‘come’.