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    • Join Date: Mar 2009
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    #1

    prevail

    Dear friends,
    This word 'prevail' is not exactly clear to me.

    Let me explain:

    I found those explanations at Macmillan English Dictionary:
    prevail (verb):
    1) to exist at a particular time or in a particular situation.
    e.g
    a raport on the economic conditions prevailing in the country.

    so, what does it mean here?
    why here is used 'prevailing' insted of 'existing'?

    e.g
    A friendly atmosphere prevailed among the crowds in the park.
    But here does it mean that this atmosphere just exist, is present or may be is predominant?

    2) To be the strongest influence or element in situation.
    We hope that common sense will prevail and an agreement will soon be reached
    So here that means that something is predominant.
    Can we say that:
    We hope that common sense will predominate and an agreement will soon be reached??
    Then what is a diffrence in meaning between that 2 sentences?

    I am trying to grasp the exact meaning of this word, so or your explanations will be very helpful.

    thanks in advance
    cz.

    P.s
    If it's not a problem,please tell me where I make grammar mistakes. and if some my sentences can be said in diffrent better way , then point it to me. I'll be greateful.

  1. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: prevail

    You're right, it seems like a tricky word, doesn't it? It's easy to use, though, once you get the hang of it.

    I think of to prevail as more than just the definition you found, to exist. It can also imply leadership, dominance, winning, or success, as well.

    -For thousands of years, the belief that the earth is flat prevailed. Today, however, the prevailing theory is that the earth is shaped like a tired football.

    -Ten teams are in the tournament. Only one will prevail.

    -She had said to her sister: "I'll get a job with the party that prevails
    in the next election." But when the election was over, her common sense prevailed, and she went back to school, instead.

    Hope that helps!
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 18-Mar-2009 at 14:10.


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
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    #3

    Re: prevail

    'prevail' combines the ideas of 'existing', present in a situation, AND exerting a great force or influence.

    So - 'common sense prevailing': if some members of the crowd begin to act impulsively and recklessly, it is hoped that most of the crowd will use the common sense that exists in all of us, and let that act as an influence and force to keep any thoughts of also acting impulsively in check.

    For thousands of years, the belief that the earth is flat prevailed.
    That belief existed. It also had a great influence over people's thinking, so that there were fears that if you sailed to the edge of the world, you must fall over, like over a cliff.....and over the edge, there might be fiery monsters...
    So - it had a great influence on the thinking of sailors and how far they were prepared to sail in the one direction in case they came to the end of the world.

    (So I was taught in primary school. QI, on TV, shoots holes in much of the knowledge that has held sway, if not exactly prevailed, in my mind for years.)


    • Join Date: Mar 2009
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    #4

    Re: prevail

    Dear Charlie and David
    Thank you very much for your explanations. They clear it up to me.

    I was wondering If you could give me some extra examples with usage of 'prevail'.

    Is it correct to say that:
    1. Tomorrow, the clouds will prevail over the Britain.

    2. Scarlett Johansson is the most prevailing actress?

    3. Some stereotypes still prevail in our society.

    thanks in advance


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
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    #5

    Re: prevail

    OK. We've talked about 'existing' and 'exerting force, influence' as essential aspects of the meaning of 'prevail'
    Sometimes, the element of 'force' predominates, as in
    "He prevailed over his enemies"
    and
    "He prevailed upon her to write her memoirs."
    "The prevailing winds are from the north-west"

    Another aspect of the meaning of 'prevail' is to be widespread in a particular area at a particular time; be current(exist now, at this time) AND exerting an influence or force over.

    So, we could say,"This low pressure system continues to prevail in the weather pattern for Europe, bringing........"

    2. Scarlett Johansson is the most prevailing actress?
    Perhaps something like, "British films prevailed at the Oscars, with our films netting Best Film, Best.........for a total of 10 of the major Academy Awards."...with the meaning of 'a victory that spread over many major categories and brought about by the force of British artistry.
    3. Some stereotypes still prevail in our society.
    Good use of the word!
    Last edited by David L.; 18-Mar-2009 at 18:56.

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: prevail

    Quote Originally Posted by czildren View Post
    Dear Charlie and David
    Thank you very much for your explanations. They clear it up to me.

    I was wondering If you could give me some extra examples with usage of 'prevail'.

    Is it correct to say that:
    1. Tomorrow, the clouds will prevail over the Britain.

    Somewhat, but it's unusual. David might also point out that clouds don't exert much force.

    2. Scarlett Johansson is the most prevailing actress?

    Prevailing is not a matter of degree. You either prevail or you don't. So "most" shouldn't be there.

    3. Some stereotypes still prevail in our society.

    Perfect.

    thanks in advance
    You're welcome again!

    How about googling "prevail" to find more examples?


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    #7

    Re: prevail

    ...and noting which element of the meaning of 'prevail' predominates in each example.


    • Join Date: Mar 2009
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    #8

    Re: prevail

    Hi guys,
    thanks again for your helpful remarks.

    What if i say:

    Bad weather in Britain prevails. - so here it means that some kind of weather not only exist in particular period of time, but is also predominent.

    Scarlett Johansson prevailed her mother in court. - so she won.

    Poland is that kind of country that the poor prevails - they predominate in society

    In compound words one root always prevails - so it has the strongest influence.

    At the Columbia University the older teachers prevails - the particular group of people exist and they are the biggest group. But does it also imply that they are the most important and influential group??

    He prevailed upon her to visit his parents

    The last one is for sure correct, but here its meaning is quite diffrent then others, isn't it? Does it mean that he persuade her that she should visit her parents. Isnt it the another meaning of 'prevail'?

    I found out that it has also another meaning with continue.
    The bad weather continued for two more weeks

    Can we say that

    The bad weather prevailed for two more weeks
    and then does it mean the same?

    Is it correct to say:
    Musical talent prevails in the family
    Does it mean that there is some musicial talent which is inherited from generation to generation?

  3. BobK's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: prevail

    Here are some examples from the British National Corpus

    1 CH3 W_newsp_tabloid , who had been considering the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, believes the prevailing soft ground will negate the speed of the specialist milers. French classic winner Culture
    2 B2M W_ac_tech_engin are those that are considered desirable in systems terms, and culturally feasible in light of the prevailing attitudes within the organisation. In addition, experience has shown that it is equally important
    3 HGX W_ac_tech_engin of proceeding anyway. The value used for the exposure will be reasonable for the prevailing conditions. Distrust comparisons with readings obtained when this setting-up problem did not occur.
    4 A64 W_ac_polit_law_edu Petrograd tended to select, filter, and interpret evidence from the localities in the light of their prevailing general beliefs, so that their conclusions had little foundation in hard evidence. Yet although
    5 A64 W_ac_polit_law_edu every branch of local government. Its working methods were almost a caricature of those prevailing in high political bodies in Moscow. Plenary sessions were held once a month only
    6 A64 W_ac_polit_law_edu achieve . Neither alternative was anywhere near implemented by 1926, let alone in 1922. Prevailing conditions in the organization and distribution of the popular press were partly responsible for this
    7 A6M W_ac_polit_law_edu the form of "outright theft" from parastatal companies. If there is a prevailing thread in the history of these state-owned enterprises it is the constant under-assessment of risk
    8 A6M W_ac_polit_law_edu , and the size and distribution of their population is very different to the situation prevailing in the early 1960s. Most countries now have to build on an economy in
    9 EB2 W_ac_polit_law_edu which inspire the legal rules and determine the province of contractual obligations. Plainly the prevailing legal principle of freedom of contract mirrors the liberal's adherence to the ideal of
    10 EB2 W_ac_polit_law_edu . The first was that this contractual conception of the company conflicted with the theory prevailing in the case-law that treated the company as an artificial entity, separate and distinct
    11 ADD W_ac_polit_law_edu The Führer, yes! The Party, no!" amounted to a widely prevailing view on the eve of the invasion of the Soviet Union. Trust in Hitler
    12 ADD W_ac_polit_law_edu remaining left (or were forced to leave) as soon as possible. But prevailing attitudes towards the Jews at this time among all but a small proportion of the
    13 AN5 W_ac_polit_law_edu rather reflected their concern that their children should be educated in a school with a prevailing Christian ethos, which they claimed would not be the case at the school designated
    14 AN5 W_ac_polit_law_edu the new procedures governing reinstatement of excluded pupils must be regarded as exceptions to the prevailing laissez-faire approach by Parliament towards punishment of pupils. The rulings of the courts have
    15 APE W_ac_polit_law_edu the social heritage and to live the life of a civilized being according to the standards prevailing in society" were won in the twentieth century, especially in the post-war period
    16 APE W_ac_polit_law_edu citizenship is liable to fall disproportionately on women. There is still a strong view prevailing in the Conservative Party that "a woman's place is in the home"
    17 APN W_ac_polit_law_edu as the technical ones, and they remain unconnected, irksome and somehow immovable under prevailing analytical frameworks. The analysis which follows in the succeeding five chapters attempts to show
    18 B12 W_ac_polit_law_edu resettlement programme in rural areas which aimed to improve the grossly inequitable distribution of land prevailing during the colonial period was less effective than had been hoped, and was cut
    19 B12 W_ac_polit_law_edu While more women have had access to education, the economic crisis has combined with prevailing social attitudes to limit women's opportunities to improve their economic position. However,
    20 B12 W_ac_polit_law_edu to formulate ideas for another kind of education system. In the 1970s, the prevailing demand among political activists and their academic sympathizers was for freedom first and education later
    21 C8R W_ac_polit_law_edu would deny the propriety of its exercise. External restraints on sovereignty It is the prevailing view of the sovereignty of Parliament, above discussed, that if Parliament wished to
    22 C8R W_ac_polit_law_edu important acts of the Community require the concurrence of the Council, and since the prevailing understanding is that in relation to any matter which any member state considers to affect its own
    23 CCR W_ac_polit_law_edu councillors, it was argued, should not be usurped by pressure groups. The prevailing ethos was one of "benevolent neglect". This political landscape stood in some
    24 CDP W_ac_polit_law_edu the goods to be sold, good advice on what constitutes such a price in prevailing market conditions must surely be taken. As a matter of interest, the following
    25 CHC W_ac_polit_law_edu normative consensus of the public as to the illegality of the use of nuclear weapons from prevailing official policies. (Falk, 1983, pp. 537–8) Falk advances these principles
    ...
    There are hundreds more. Go to British National Corpus (BYU-BNC) and search for "prevailing".

    David gave the example 'prevailing wind'. I thought this would turn out to be among the strongest collocations, so I checked in the BNC. The search string "prevailing [*n]" ([*n] means 'any noun') gives these results:

    1 PREVAILING WIND 38
    2 PREVAILING VIEW 28
    3 PREVAILING CONDITIONS 27
    4 PREVAILING WINDS 24
    5 PREVAILING MOOD 19
    ...
    Wind/winds is the only one that gets both singular and plural into the top 5, and after prevailing mood the hits tail off quite steeply.

    b

  4. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: prevail

    Quote Originally Posted by czildren View Post
    Hi guys,
    Thanks again for your helpful remarks.

    What if I say:

    Bad weather in Britain prevails. - so here it means that some kind of weather not only exist in particular period of time, but is also predominent. exactly.

    Scarlett Johansson prevailed over /against her mother in court. - so she won.

    Poland is that kind of country where/in which the poor prevailx. - they predominate in society If the poor actually run the country, it's good.

    In compound words, one root always prevails. - so it has the strongest influence. Good.

    At xxx Columbia university, the older teachers prevailx. - the particular group of people exist and they are the biggest group. But does it also imply that they are the most important and influential group?? Yes.

    He prevailed upon her to visit his parents.

    The last one is for sure correct, but here its meaning is quite diffrent then others, isn't it? Does it mean that he persuade her that she should visit her parents. Isn't it the another meaning of 'prevail'? Good point. My sense if it is that since it's implying that he won an argument, it's another extension of the meaning. However, David and Bob are the teachers here, so let's see what they say.

    I found out that it has also another meaning with continue.
    The bad weather continued for two more weeks.

    Can we say that:

    The bad weather prevailed for two more weeks.
    And then does it mean the same? yes. I think you're getting it.

    Is it correct to say:
    musical talent prevails in the family
    Does it mean that there is some musicial talent which is inherited from generation to generation? That's one way to explain why musicianship prevails. But your understanding of "prevail" is obviously getting much stronger. Now get back to work on your capitals and punctuation!
    =o]
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 19-Mar-2009 at 14:30.

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