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

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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

Company spokeswoman Christine Milligan said that with no progress being made, the company rejected the proposal and took preemptive action to ensure service was not interrupted. Katie Johnston,, "Locked out, National Grid workers grapple with loss of income, health insurance," 11 July 2018 These preemptive actions put Israel at the forefront of an increasingly popular — and controversial — trend among intelligence and law enforcement agencies worldwide to use big-data technology to track would-be criminals. Washington Post, "World Digest: June 12, 2018," 12 June 2018 The optimistic reading of the Times story is this: None of the president’s top advisers believe that preemptive military action against North Korea is advisable, but McMaster wants to put together the strongest possible bluff. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "The Pentagon Is Afraid to Give Trump More Military Options on North Korea," 2 Feb. 2018 And short of preemptive military action, a diplomatic carrot-and-stick approach may no longer work to prevent proliferation. The Christian Science Monitor, "Pressure mounts on global efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation," 29 May 2018 Protect Democracy has also filed a lawsuit to determine whether the Trump administration is developing any analysis about a legal basis for a potential preemptive attack on North Korea. Heidi Przybyla, NBC News, "Sen. Tim Kaine demands release of secret Trump war powers memo," 9 Feb. 2018 Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the preemptive strike that brought the United States into World War 2, was a tactical success but a strategic failure. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Is China Practicing Missile Strikes Against U.S. Bases in Asia?," 6 Feb. 2017 But The Post did not mention Keyser specifically or Ford's preemptive dismissal of her memory in its original recounting of Ford's allegations, a bombshell story that has threatened to upend Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation. Gregg Re, Fox News, "Kavanaugh accuser's details have changed, but she remains certain about abuse," 23 Sep. 2018 One month into his presidency, Trump asked Dunford for a plan for a preemptive military strike on North Korea, which rattled the combat veteran. Robert Costa, The Seattle Times, "New book reveals a ‘nervous breakdown’ of Trump’s presidency," 4 Sep. 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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Time Traveler for preemptive

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 How to pronounce preemptive (audio) \

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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