pre·​emp·​tive prē-ˈem(p)-tiv How to pronounce preemptive (audio)
: of or relating to preemption
: having power to preempt
of a bid in bridge : higher than necessary and intended to shut out bids by the opponents
: giving a stockholder first option to purchase new stock in an amount proportionate to his existing holdings
: marked by the seizing of the initiative : initiated by oneself
a preemptive attack
preemptively adverb

Examples of preemptive in a Sentence

The country took preemptive action against the perceived enemy. a preemptive attack by the army
Recent Examples on the Web But supporters of these relatively early emerging neural regulations hope these preemptive efforts can help set standards and potentially help model the growing neurotechnology industry towards a more privacy-conscious future. Mack Degeurin, Popular Science, 18 Apr. 2024 Your preemptive opening described your hand, more or less — long, strong spades with little defense — and your partner makes the decisions. Frank Stewart, The Mercury News, 16 Apr. 2024 Earlier this month, per CBS, legal representatives for the two companies made a preemptive filing in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore aiming to limit their liability in the crash. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 15 Apr. 2024 The move was a major preemptive escalation in opposition to the bill, which has not yet become law but has already sparked debate over who would benefit, and whether restricting access to news content might inhibit democracy. Andrew Sheeler, Sacramento Bee, 12 Apr. 2024 Instead of waiting for a part to fail, the AI could predict when a component is likely to need replacement or maintenance and send you a preemptive alert. Bernard Marr, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 Around 30 countries and a consortium of humanitarian organizations have called for a preemptive, legally binding treaty to ban autonomous weapons before they can be deployed. Paul Scharre, Foreign Affairs, 29 Feb. 2024 In today’s deal, East bid three spades (preemptive) with this hand. Frank Stewart, The Mercury News, 20 Feb. 2024 Wednesday’s vote represents a preemptive plan to implement curfews and close beaches ahead of the arrival of spring break crowds. Aaron Leibowitz, Miami Herald, 31 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'preemptive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1855, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of preemptive was in 1855

Dictionary Entries Near preemptive

Cite this Entry

“Preemptive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Apr. 2024.

Legal Definition


pre·​emp·​tive prē-ˈemp-tiv How to pronounce preemptive (audio)
: of or relating to preemption

More from Merriam-Webster on preemptive

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!