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

In today’s deal, North’s leap to four hearts was preemptive. Frank Stewart, The Mercury News, "Bridge: July 21, 2019," 21 July 2019 David Copperfield put out a preemptive statement supporting the #MeToo movement and asking for people to refrain from rushing to judgement. Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY, "David Copperfield accused of drugging, assaulting model when she was 17," 24 Jan. 2018 And as threats increase, Valmeyer officials say they are continually approached by other municipalities considering what scientists call managed retreat -- basically, a preemptive move to higher ground. Stephanie Elam, CNN, "A flood forced this town to move. It could be a model for others hit by the climate crisis," 17 July 2019 In the survey of 3,000 Americans, respondents read imaginary news stories in which they were told policymakers were contemplating a preemptive strike on North Korea. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "Americans are terrifyingly supportive of nuking civilians in North Korea," 26 June 2019 Our cancel culture relies on the unpredictability and post hoc nature of the enforcement to instill a spirit of creative and preemptive conformity among those with something to lose. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Pavlik Morozov Is the Patron Saint of Cancel Culture," 2 July 2019 Was the Pacers' draft night deal for scoring forward T.J. Warren a preemptive strike to prepare for Bogdanovic's exit? Ben Golliver,, "There’s more to this NBA free agency than superstars," 25 June 2019 Let’s not do a preemptive strike in invalidating the will of the voters. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego gives up legal fight to preserve Proposition B pension cuts," 10 June 2019 While the increasing reliance on preemptive power outages comes from a place of well-meaning, the trend is dangerous for Americans and small businesses. Rachelle Chong, The Mercury News, "Opinion: Don’t let PG&E leave communities in the dark," 4 June 2019

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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Statistics for preemptive

Last Updated

18 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

Comments on preemptive

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a haphazard or makeshift solution

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