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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Monaco also used Monday's announcement to urge companies to take preemptive action. Alexander Mallin, ABC News, 7 June 2021 The bill approved Thursday amounts to a preemptive strike against sweeping election and voter-access legislation being debated in Washington., 5 June 2021 Just before Trump left office, Greenberg pressed Trump associate Roger Stone for a preemptive pardon. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, 20 May 2021 One of the sources said Gaetz asked for the blanket preemptive pardon for both himself and other congressional allies. Sara Cook, CBS News, 7 Apr. 2021 Khodorkovsky said the authorities are taking preemptive action against the opposition, fearing that the September election could trigger protests. Star Tribune, 1 June 2021 In a preemptive strike, Israel attacks Egypt and later Jordan and Syria, capturing Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. USA Today, 20 May 2021 Critics saw Foppoli’s move against Lemus as a preemptive strike before Lemus could level her own allegations. Alexandria Bordas, Cynthia Dizikes, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 May 2021 Sergei Markov, a former Kremlin adviser, says that Russian leaders perceive a new level of hostility from the West, particularly the United States, and that means that Russia needs to take preemptive measures to protect itself. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, 13 May 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of preemptive

1855, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About preemptive

Time Traveler for preemptive

Time Traveler

The first known use of preemptive was in 1855

See more words from the same year

Statistics for preemptive

Last Updated

17 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Preemptive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Return of Name that Color!

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!