pre·​emp·​tion | \ prē-ˈem(p)-shən \

Definition of preemption

1a : the right of purchasing before others especially : one given by the government to the actual settler upon a tract of public land
b : the purchase of something under this right
2 : a prior seizure or appropriation : a taking possession before others
3a : a doctrine in law according to which federal law supersedes state law when federal law is in conflict with a state law Even without an express provision for preemption, we have found that state law must yield to a congressional Act in at least two circumstances.Crosby v. National Foreign Trade Council

called also federal preemption

b : a doctrine in law according to which the legislation of a superior government (such as a state government) supersedes that of an inferior government (such as a municipal government) in conflicts of law
4 : a policy of launching a preemptive attack in order to prevent a suspected imminent attack

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Examples of preemption in a Sentence

longtime residents resented the preemption of their urban neighborhood by this influx of affluent yuppies

Recent Examples on the Web

Verizon's comments confirm what opponents of the FCC preemption said—that the FCC action provided no reason for carriers to invest more in rural areas. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Verizon won’t speed up 5G buildout despite FCC preempting local fees," 31 Oct. 2018 That group will also help provide one of the key selling points of FirstNet to police and fire chiefs: priority and preemption. Tom Jackman, Washington Post, "FirstNet launches, giving police and firefighters a dedicated wireless network and infinite possibilities," 25 June 2018 But preemption in the era of polarized politics has created friction, especially between progressive blue cities and more conservative red states. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "When states overrule cities: report finds preemption is spreading," 10 Apr. 2018 Some states are trying to evade the federal preemption with indirect measures that apply only to ISPs that accept state contracts. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Calif. weighs toughest net neutrality law in US—with ban on paid zero-rating," 14 Mar. 2018 The preemption Adamson is referring to is what is known as the plastic bag ban ban. Sarah Bowman, Indianapolis Star, "Aardvark paper straws: This Fort Wayne company has your plastic straw alternative," 24 June 2018 The preemption may have been especially jarring for ABC viewers, as the television network has moved away from news coverage in recent years. Sasha Savitsky, Fox News, "'Bachelorette' fans go nuclear when ABC interrupts show for historic Trump/Kim handshake," 13 June 2018 The current bill proposes an effective date of July 2021 to allow county preemption. Lisa Jhung, Outside Online, "Hawaii Moves to Ban Anti-Green Sunscreen," 1 May 2018 Local governments more predictably fought the preemption of their zoning and planning prerogatives; in its initial language, SB 827 would have affected the entire city of San Francisco and roughly half of Los Angeles. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "California’s SB 827 ‘Upzoning’ Bill Dies a Noisy Death — for Now," 18 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'preemption.' 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 preemption

1602, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for preemption

Medieval Latin praeemption-, praeemptio previous purchase, from praeemere to buy before, from Latin prae- pre- + emere to buy — more at redeem

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Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for preemption

The first known use of preemption was in 1602

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pre·​emp·​tion | \ prē-ˈemp-shən \

Legal Definition of preemption

1a : the right of purchasing before others : preemptive right
b : a right to purchase a tract of public land before others that was given by the government to the actual occupant of the land

Note: This sense of preemption is primarily of historical importance.

2 : a doctrine in conflicts of law: when a superior government (as of a state) has undertaken to regulate a subject its laws supersede those of an inferior government (as of a municipality)

Note: According to the doctrine of preemption, federal law supersedes state law when federal law is in conflict with a state law on a subject or when there is congressional intent to regulate a subject to the exclusion of the states. Federal preemption is based on the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution and is closely related to the powers granted Congress in the commerce clause.

3 : an act or instance of preempting

History and Etymology for preemption

Medieval Latin praeemption- praeemptio previous purchase, from praeemere to buy before

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More from Merriam-Webster on preemption

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for preemption

Britannica English: Translation of preemption for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about preemption

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