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

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 Khloé took to her Instagram Story earlier today to set the record straight, issuing a preemptive strike to anyone with ~opinions~ about her face during the new season of KUWTK. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Khloé Kardashian Issues a Preemptive Strike at Anyone Who Wonders Why Her Lips Look Bigger on 'KUWTK'," 5 Aug. 2018 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

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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Last Updated

6 Jan 2019

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The first known use of preemptive was in 1855

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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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