pre·​empt | \ prē-ˈem(p)t How to pronounce preempt (audio) \
preempted; preempting; preempts

Definition of preempt

transitive verb

1 : to acquire (something, such as land) by preemption
2 : to seize upon to the exclusion of others : take for oneself the movement was then preempted by a lunatic fringe
3a : to replace with something considered to be of greater value or priority : take precedence over the program did not appear, having been preempted by a baseball game— Robert MacNeil
b law : to replace or supersede (a law) or bar (an action) by the doctrine of preemption In so doing, the Court held that Congress did not intend to preempt common law contract claims.Charas v. Trans World Airlines, Inc.
4 : to gain a commanding or preeminent place in
5 : to prevent from happening or taking place : forestall, preclude

intransitive verb

: to make a preemptive bid in bridge

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Other Words from preempt

preemptor \ prē-​ˈem(p)-​tər How to pronounce preemptor (audio) \ noun

Examples of preempt in a Sentence

The contract preempts lawsuits by the company's clients. The state law was preempted by a federal law. The President's speech preempted regular programming.
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Recent Examples on the Web This may not be the final word, however, because the Chamber of Commerce is lobbying Congress to pass a federal law to preempt CCPA. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "New California Law Giving Consumers Control Over Their Data Sets Off a Scramble," 18 Dec. 2019 House Republicans argue Trump did nothing wrong and released their own 123-page report on Monday to preempt Democrats' accusations. USA TODAY, "Read the full impeachment inquiry report from the House Intelligence Committee," 4 Dec. 2019 Barr has emerged as a staunch defender of the presidency, preempting the full release of the 400-page Mueller report with his own simplified explanation of its conclusions: no collusion and no obstruction. Tessa Berenson, Time, "The Whistleblower Complaint Raises Big Questions About Attorney General Barr—and Trump," 26 Sep. 2019 But more often, we were preempted by people who slowed their cars to exchange hellos with Ms. Hill and ask for the latest neighborhood news. Sharon Grigsby, Dallas News, "In coronavirus isolation, we need leaders like Anna Hill, who keeps her eye on Dolphin Heights neighbors through crisis," 3 Apr. 2020 Sunday’s match between Manchester City and Arsenal, which has a large following and extensive commercial interests in China, was preempted after social media posts by Özil, a German Muslim who is of Turkish heritage. Washington Post, "Arsenal star Mesut Özil draws China’s wrath after criticizing treatment of Muslim Uighurs," 16 Dec. 2019 Of course, the NCAA could preempt this entire discussion by voluntarily changing its rules so that college athletes can hire agents and sign endorsement deals without forfeiting their eligibility. Michael Mccann,, "California's New Law Worries the NCAA, but a Federal Law Is What They Should Fear," 4 Oct. 2019 Thereafter, to preempt any threats to that canal and other American business interests, successive U.S. administrations embarked on a series of interventions throughout the Caribbean. Andrew J. Bacevich, Harper's magazine, "The Old Normal," 2 Mar. 2020 Then, rather abruptly, the US switched gears and targeted a leading Iranian official to preempt attacks whose scale and timing have been depicted differently by Trump, Pompeo, and Esper. Steven Simon, The New York Review of Books, "The Middle East: Trump Blunders In," 16 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'preempt.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of preempt

1850, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for preempt

back-formation from preemption

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Time Traveler for preempt

Time Traveler

The first known use of preempt was in 1850

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Statistics for preempt

Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Preempt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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How to pronounce preempt (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of preempt

formal : to prevent (something) from happening
formal : to take the place of (something)
US : to be shown instead of (another television program)
pre·​empt | \ prē-ˈempt How to pronounce preempt (audio) \

Legal Definition of preempt

1a : to acquire (land) by preemption
b : to seize upon to the exclusion of others : take for oneself a senior user of a trademark could not preempt use of the mark in remote geographical marketsMesa Springs Enterprises v. Cutco Indus., 736 P.2d 1251 (1986)
2a : to replace or supersede (a law) by preemption such state laws are not preempted by the federal Energy Reorganization Act of 1974National Law Journal
b : to preclude or bar (an action) by preemption federal airline deregulation does not preempt claims under state contract lawNational Law Journal

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More from Merriam-Webster on preempt

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for preempt

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with preempt

Spanish Central: Translation of preempt

Nglish: Translation of preempt for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of preempt for Arabic Speakers

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