1. Generally current; widespread: the prevailing attitude.
2. Blowing usually or most frequently from a given direction: a prevailing easterly wind.
Synonyms: prevailing, prevalent, current
These adjectives denote what exists or is encountered generally at a particular time. Prevailing applies to what is most frequent or common at a certain time or in a certain place: took a poll to find the prevailing opinion. Prevalent suggests widespread existence or occurrence but does not imply predominance: a belief that was prevalent in the Middle Ages. Current often stresses the present time and is frequently applied to what is subject to frequent change: current psychoanalytic theories.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.