"coming or going before, preceding, previous," 1650s, from Latin praevenientem (nominative praeveniens), present participle of praevenire, from prae "before" (see pre-) + venire "to come" (from a suffixed form of PIE root *gwa- "to go, come"). Related: Prevenience; preveniently.
The earliest sense is theological, in prevenient grace (c.1600), where it means either "antecedent to human action," specifically "preventive, hindering." A verb prevene "to come or go before" is attested in English by mid-15c., but is archaic or obsolete.
updated on October 30, 2020