Forestall is a verb that means to prevent or hinder something from happening or to anticipate and take preventive measures to avoid an action or event. It involves taking proactive action in order to delay or obstruct a particular outcome.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech

Forestall is a verb.


prevent, hinder, impede, obstruct, thwart, preclude, delay, stave off, avert, stop.


Allow, permit, facilitate, encourage, support, assist.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun forestallings, forestalling
Verb forestall, forestalled, forestalls, forestalling
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • In order to forestall labor strikes, the company decided to offer better working conditions and higher wages.

  • The government implemented strict measures to forestall the spread of the contagious disease within the community.

  • She meticulously planned her schedule to forestall any delays and ensure smooth execution of the project.

  • The prompt actions taken by the firefighters helped forestall the fire from spreading to nearby buildings.


The word “forestall” has an interesting history and usage that can be traced back to its Middle English roots. It is derived from two Old English words: “fore,” meaning before, and “stall,” meaning to block or hinder. The combination of these elements gives “forestall” its meaning of preventing or hindering something from happening.

Originally, the term “forestall” was used specifically in the context of commerce. It referred to the practice of buying or acquiring goods or produce ahead of time before they reached the market in order to control supply and manipulate prices. Merchants would engage in this strategy to gain a competitive advantage or to monopolize certain goods. Over time, however, the usage of “forestall” has broadened to encompass a wider range of scenarios beyond just commercial contexts.

Today, “forestall” is commonly used to describe any proactive action taken to prevent or hinder something from occurring. It can be applied in various contexts, such as preventing accidents, averting crises, or stopping the spread of diseases. The word is typically used as a verb and can be modified with prefixes or suffixes to modify its meaning. For example, the prefix “pre-” can be added to form the word “pre-forestall,” which emphasizes the act of preventing or hindering something even before it has become a possibility.

Overall, “forestall” remains a versatile word that embodies the concept of taking anticipatory measures to impede or prevent unwanted outcomes. Its historical roots in commerce have expanded to include a broader range of scenarios, reflecting its relevance in contemporary usage.