pre·​emp·​tive | \ prē-ˈem(p)-tiv How to pronounce preemptive (audio) \

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

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 Concerned about a preemptive strike, Soviet forces prepared their nuclear weapons for launch. Francine Uenuma, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 Apr. 2022 Yoon also wants to develop technology that would allow South Korea to launch a preemptive attack, in the case of an imminent North Korean nuclear threat. Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2022 The closer Iran gets to a bomb, the more the risks of war in the region will rise—and mainly via a potential preemptive attack by Israel. Michael A. Cohen, The New Republic, 25 Jan. 2022 Parts of Mayorkas’s memo read as a preemptive political defense. Jasmine Aguilera, Time, 27 Apr. 2022 These measures may seem simple, but preemptive damage control is critical, said Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights nonprofit group. Washington Post, 25 Apr. 2022 That move has prompted calls for a state investigation into possible misuse of election records and a preemptive lawsuit by Voter Reference Foundation to ensure its plans to publish the details about New Mexico voters. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 12 Apr. 2022 Surprising as the late Sunday news may be, the preemptive split looks eminently predictable in hindsight. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 11 Apr. 2022 Indian or Pakistani—or Russian or NATO—policy makers may find themselves under immense pressure to launch a preemptive attack, thereby compounding the crisis. Zia Mian, Scientific American, 8 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near preemptive

preemption right



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Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Preemptive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for preemptive


pre·​emp·​tive | \ prē-ˈemp-tiv How to pronounce preemptive (audio) \

Legal Definition of preemptive

: of or relating to preemption

More from Merriam-Webster on preemptive

Nglish: Translation of preemptive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of preemptive for Arabic Speakers


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