pre·​oc·​cu·​pa·​tion | \ (ˌ)prē-ˌä-kyə-ˈpā-shən \

Definition of preoccupation

1 : an act of preoccupying : the state of being preoccupied
2a : extreme or excessive concern with something
b : something that preoccupies one

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Examples of preoccupation in a Sentence

We need to better understand the problems and preoccupations of our clients. the future entomologist's preoccupation with insects from a very early age

Recent Examples on the Web

Changing diapers becomes a fledgling mother's new preoccupation and anything that complicates this already hard-to-manage at times task is simply too much. Naomi Williamson, Woman's Day, "10 Things Never to Buy a New Mom," 23 July 2014 For Sperling, a preoccupation with the inner workings of the brain is a family affair. Joshua Kendall,, "Can this doctor figure out how to stop Alzheimer’s before it starts?," 11 June 2018 Body dysmorphic disorder involves a preoccupation with one or more perceived flaws in an individual's appearance. Jesa Marie Calaor, Allure, "How I Realized I Have Body Dysmorphic Disorder," 11 Mar. 2018 And while the food (a goat cheese salad, red snapper) and decor were lovely objects of preoccupation, the art was the highlight of the night. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Karlie Kloss, Gwyneth Paltrow, and More Brave the Snow to Attend the 2018 Guggenheim International Gala," 16 Nov. 2018 But that good news has done little to offset investors’ preoccupation with the effects of the Trump administration’s import tariffs on manufacturers. Doug Cameron, WSJ, "Costs Are Crashing the Party for Manufacturers," 22 July 2018 Mia Couto’s abiding preoccupation, over the course of nearly a dozen novels, has been the ravages wrought by 15 years of civil war on his native Mozambique. Sheila Glaser, New York Times, "A Fable of Mozambique, Its Bloodshed and Myths," 8 June 2018 Economic development in Africa has been a perennial preoccupation of social scientists, as many African states fall near the bottom of human development indices. Beth Elise Whitaker, Washington Post, "What the ‘s---hole’ debate gets wrong about Africa," 18 Jan. 2018 This preoccupation with race as part of biology teaches us that race is an integral part of diagnosis and treatment, a characteristic that becomes indelible from pathology. Jennifer W. Tsai, STAT, "You can’t tell a book by its cover — or a disease by Drake’s race," 11 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'preoccupation.' 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 preoccupation

1572, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for preoccupation

The first known use of preoccupation was in 1572

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More Definitions for preoccupation



English Language Learners Definition of preoccupation

: a state in which you give all your attention to something
: something that you give all or most of your attention to

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Comments on preoccupation

What made you want to look up preoccupation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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