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 The Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions are already in the most restricted category, and several counties in the San Francisco Bay Area chose to implement their own voluntary orders as a preemptive measure. Winston Gieseke, USA TODAY, "In California: State hits record for COVID-19 deaths in one day; playgrounds reopen," 10 Dec. 2020 This preemptive measure in parts of the Bay Area will close outdoor and indoor dining, personal care services such as hair and nail salons, playgrounds, bars and wineries, movie theaters, museums and zoos. Catherine Ho,, "Six Bay Area jurisdictions to enact strict stay-at-home order ahead of state edict, starting Sunday," 4 Dec. 2020 The Times and Fox News both reported Gaetz had sought blanket preemptive pardons for himself and others in Congress during the final days of Trump's presidency. Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY, "GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz and Tom Reed face House Ethics Committee investigations," 10 Apr. 2021 Pacific Power officials say preemptive blackouts are a last resort. oregonlive, "Other utilities cut power to reduce Labor Day fire risks. Pacific Power did not. Now it may face the consequences," 28 Mar. 2021 Security forces began employing rougher tactics on Saturday, taking preemptive action to break up protests and make mass arrests. Fox News, "Burma military clash with protesters leaves 18 dead, about 1,000 detained including journalist," 1 Mar. 2021 The Cold War was also when there were fears that Russia might launch a preemptive strike against the U.S. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, "Should a single person be able to trigger nuclear Armageddon?," 14 Jan. 2021 None of the executives or the commissioners even flirted with the subject of how the wildfires started or whether Pacific Power in particular should have used preemptive blackouts in light of the forecasts -- as PGE did on Mt. Hood. oregonlive, "PacifiCorp could face substantial liability if downed power lines caused Oregon wildfires," 4 Oct. 2020 As a preemptive measure to help avoid sparking wildfires during the red-flag fire warning, San Diego Gas & Electric shut off power to more than 5,900 customers throughout the day Wednesday and as of early Thursday morning. Alex Riggins, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Brushfire prompts overnight evacuations in Fallbrook and Camp Pendleton," 24 Dec. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of preemptive was in 1855

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Statistics for preemptive

Last Updated

30 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Preemptive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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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

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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