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Prev"a*lent (?), a. [L. praevalens, -entis, p. pr. of praevalere. See Prevail.] 1. Gaining advantage or superiority; having superior force, influence, or efficacy; prevailing; predominant; successful; victorious.
Brennus told the Roman embassadors, that prevalent arms were as good as any title. Sir W. Raleigh.
2. Most generally received or current; most widely adopted or practiced; also, generally or extensively existing; widespread; prevailing; as, a prevalent observance; prevalent disease.
This was the most received and prevalent opinion. Woodward.
Syn. -- Prevailing; predominant; successful; efficacious; powerful. -- Prevalent, Prevailing. What customarily prevails is prevalent; as, a prevalent fashion. What actually prevails is prevailing; as, the prevailing winds are west. Hence, prevailing is the livelier and more pointed word, since it represents a thing in action. It is sometimes the stronger word, since a thing may prevail sufficiently to be called prevalent, and yet require greater strength to make it actually prevailing.