pre·​emp·​tive | \prē-ˈem(p)-tiv \

Definition of preemptive 

1a : of or relating to preemption

b : having power to preempt

2 of a bid in bridge : higher than necessary and intended to shut out bids by the opponents

3 : giving a stockholder first option to purchase new stock in an amount proportionate to his existing holdings

4 : marked by the seizing of the initiative : initiated by oneself a preemptive attack

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Other Words from preemptive

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

Now the Tennessee woman is suing NASA -- as a preemptive move to ensure that the space agency can’t take the gift away from her. Benjamin Brown, Fox News, "Moon dust from Neil Armstrong belongs to her, not NASA, Tennessee woman says in lawsuit," 14 June 2018 Picking up this theme, Dan Reiter argued this month that the historical record shows preemptive wars are rare. Elizabeth Saunders, Washington Post, "President Trump talked tough on North Korea in the State of the Union. Here's where things stand.," 31 Jan. 2018 At 86 and in possession of a preemptive pardon from President Trump for Arpaio’s refusal to comply with court orders relating to his tenure as sheriff, hasn’t been much of a retail politician. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Power Rankings: Not so peachy primaries," 9 July 2018 Cicco's preemptive suit is not paranoia; NASA has a history of attempting to regain possession of lunar artifacts in general, and moon rocks allegedly given as gifts by Neil Armstrong specifically. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Women Sues NASA to Maintain Ownership of Moon Dust," 14 June 2018 First, within 30 days, the utilities must send the commission detailed plans for reaching out to communities that may be affected by preemptive blackouts. David R. Baker,, "To prevent fires, California sets new rules for shutting off power lines," 12 July 2018 In a surprisingly aggressive preemptive strike, the Walt Disney Co. reached a new agreement to buy the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox for $71 billion in cash and stock, topping Comcast Corp.’s $65 billion all cash offer. Bob Fernandez,, "Disney/Fox reach $71B deal, blowing away Comcast," 20 June 2018 While the piece was publicly lauded, some people in literary and publishing circles privately wondered if the piece might be preemptive. Anne Branigin, The Root, "Junot Díaz Says He Regrets Statement Apologizing for Sexual Misconduct, Denies Allegations," 3 July 2018 The first effort is preemptive and involves the use of a preemergence herbicide or weed preventer. Dan Gill,, "Are sticker weeds invading your lawn? Here's how to remove and prevent them.," 14 May 2018

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

1855, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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The first known use of preemptive was in 1855

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More Definitions for preemptive



English Language Learners Definition of preemptive

: done to stop an unwanted act by another group, country, etc., from happening


pre·​emp·​tive | \prē-ˈemp-tiv \

Legal Definition of preemptive 

: of or relating to preemption

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More from Merriam-Webster on preemptive

Spanish Central: Translation of preemptive

Nglish: Translation of preemptive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of preemptive for Arabic Speakers

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