prevent


prevent
prevent 1 Prevent, anticipate, forestall can mean to be or get ahead of or to deal with beforehand, with reference especially to a thing's due time or to its actual occurrence or to the action of another.
Prevent implies frustration (as of an intention or plan) or an averting (as of a threatened evil) or a rendering impossible (as by setting up an obstacle or obstacles)
{

the surest way to prevent aggression is to remain strong enough to overpower and defeat any who might attack— Lawrence

}
Sometimes the emphasis upon hindrance (see PREVENT 2) is so strong that other implications are nearly lost, but in the sense here considered advance provision or preparation against something possible or probable is clearly implied
{

medical science knows how to limit these evils and can do much to prevent their destructiveness— Eliot

}
{

steps had therefore to be taken to prevent or impede these unseemly displays— Thornton

}
{

who stands safest? tell me, is it he? . . . whose preventing care in peace provides fit arms against a war?— Pope

}
Anticipate (see also FORESEE) takes the place of prevent when merely getting ahead of another especially as a precursor or forerunner is implied
{

most of the great European thinkers of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were in some measure inspired, influenced, or anticipated by Shaftesbury— Ellis

}
{

a "Teacher of Righteousness" who seemed in some ways to anticipate Jesus— Edmund Wilson

}
Like prevent, anticipate sometimes suggests frustrating another in carrying out an intention or plan, but implies its prior performance or execution rather than interposition of obstacles to its performance
{

he would probably have died by the hand of the executioner, if the executioner had not been anticipated by the populace— Macaulay

}
{

in October came Commodore T. A. C. Jones, palpitating lest Great Britain anticipate him in seizing California— H. I. Priestley

}
Distinctively, the word implies dealing with (as by using, paying, or acting) in advance of the due time or proper order but it often involves another implication which can be gathered only from the context; thus, one anticipates a payment on a loan by making a payment before it is due; one anticipates his salary by spending its equivalent before it is earned
{

anticipate some details in telling a story

}
Forestall, in what has become perhaps the less common meaning, carries over from its earliest sense so strong an implication of intercepting that it means merely to stop in its course
{

something you were not in the least prepared to face, something you hurried to fore stall- Mary Austin

}
{

forestalled by the watchful Jelks who fetched it for him— Dahl

}
But often the word loses most of its suggestion of intercepting and then implies beforehand action that serves to render a thing, and especially something inevitable, powerless to harm or merely useless
{

to forestall public opinion and guide its judgment— L. P. Smith

}
{

posterity will still be explaining me, long after I am dead. Why, then, should I forestall their labors?— Rose Macaulay

}
Analogous words: *frustrate, thwart, foil, baffle, balk: *arrest, check, interrupt: avoid, shun, eschew, evade, *escape
2 Prevent, preclude, obviate, avert, ward are comparable when they mean to hinder or stop something that may occur or, in the case of prevent and preclude, to hinder or stop someone from doing something.
Prevent usually implies the existence of something which serves as an insurmountable obstacle or an impediment
{

there is no law to prevent you from erecting a building on this spot

}
{

the authority of his presence and the purposefulness of his manner at least prevent the role becoming a minor one— Bentley

}
{

he prevents an innocent man going to the gallows— New Books

}
Preclude differs from prevent in stressing the existence of some situation or condition or the taking of anticipatory measures that effectually shuts out every possibility of a thing's occurring or of a person's doing something
{

he makes everything so clear that all misunderstanding is precluded

}
{

death precluded him from completing his investigation

}
{

the doctrine . . . was adopted, not to promote efficiency but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power— Brandeis

}
{

the roar of the motor precluded further conversation— Gerald Beaumont

}
Obviate usually implies the use of intelligence or forethought; preclude also often implies these but sometimes it suggests the operation of chance. The chief distinction between these words when anticipatory measures are implied is that obviate usually connotes an attempt to forestall disagreeable eventualities by clearing away obstacles or by disposing of difficulties
{

the use of bills of exchange obviates the risk in transporting money from one country to another

}
{

no care, no art, no organization of society, could obviate the inherent incompatibility of individual perfection with the course of nature— Dickinson

}
Avert and ward, the latter usually with off, differ from the other words of this group in implying prevention of an approaching or oncoming evil. They suggest therefore immediate and effective measures in the face of what threatens.
Avert, however, suggests the use of active measures to force back the evil before it is actually encountered
{

avert a catastrophe by prompt action

}
{

the satisfaction of averting war—7. R. Green

}
{

it was very doubtful whether the consequences could be averted by sealing my lips— Shaw

}
Ward, on the other hand, implies a close encounter and the use of defensive measures
{

ward off an opponent's blow

}
in order to avoid the evil or to diminish its disastrous effects
{

ward off a chill with hot drinks

}
{

a magic charm to ward off evil— Herskovits

}
{

our nation has warded off all enemies— Eisenhower

}
Analogous words: *hinder, impede, obstruct, block, bar, dam: debar, shut out (see EXCLUDE): prohibit, *forbid, interdict, inhibit
Antonyms: permit

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • prevent — When prevent is followed by an object + verbal noun, the usual construction now is (for example) prevent him going or prevent him from going, rather than prevent his going, which (though considered formally more correct by some) is falling out of …   Modern English usage

  • PReVENT — is a European automotive industry activity co funded by the European Commission to contribute to road safety by developing and demonstrating preventive safety applications and technologies. Preventive and active safety applications help drivers… …   Wikipedia

  • Prevent — Pre*vent , v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Prevented}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Preventing}.] [L. praevenire, praeventum; prae before + venire to come. See {Come}.] 1. To go before; to precede; hence, to go before as a guide; to direct. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] We… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • prevent — I verb arrest, avert, avoid, baffle, balk, bar, block, check, checkmate, circumvent, contest, counter, counteract, countercheck, cut off, debar, defeat, deflect, delay, detain, deter, discourage, estop, fend off, foil, forbid, foreclose,… …   Law dictionary

  • prevent — pre‧vent [prɪˈvent] verb [transitive] to stop something happening, or someone doing something: • government regulators working to prevent fraud prevent somebody/​something (from) doing something • The region s huge economic problems will prevent… …   Financial and business terms

  • prevent — [prē vent′, privent′] vt. [ME preventen < L praeventus, pp. of praevenire, to anticipate < prae , before (see PRE ) + venire, to COME] 1. Obs. a) to act in anticipation of (an event or a fixed time) b) to anticipate (a need, objection,… …   English World dictionary

  • Prevent — Pre*vent , v. i. To come before the usual time. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] Strawberries . . . will prevent and come early. Bacon. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • prevent — (v.) early 15c., to act in anticipation of, from L. praeventus, pp. of praevenire come before, anticipate, hinder, in L.L. also to prevent, from prae before (see PRE (Cf. pre )) + venire to come (see VENUE (Cf. venue)). Originally literal; sense… …   Etymology dictionary

  • prevent — [v] keep from happening or continuing anticipate, arrest, avert, avoid, baffle, balk, bar, block, check, chill*, cool, cork, counter, counteract, dam, debar, defend against, foil, forbid, forestall, forfend, frustrate, halt, hamper, head off,… …   New thesaurus

  • prevent — ► VERB 1) keep from happening or arising. 2) stop (someone) from doing something. ● prevention is better than cure Cf. ↑prevention is better than cure DERIVATIVES preventable adjective prevention …   English terms dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.