pre·​oc·​cu·​pied | \ (ˌ)prē-ˈä-kyə-ˌpīd How to pronounce preoccupied (audio) \

Definition of preoccupied

1 : previously applied to another group and unavailable for use in a new sense used of a biological generic or specific name
2a : lost in thought also : absorbed in some preoccupation
b : already occupied

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Synonyms & Antonyms for preoccupied



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abstracted, preoccupied, absent, absentminded, distracted mean inattentive to what claims or demands consideration. abstracted implies absorption of the mind in something other than one's surroundings, and often suggests reflection on weighty matters. walking about with an abstracted air preoccupied often implies having one's attention so taken up by thoughts as to neglect others. too preoccupied with her debts to enjoy the meal absent stresses inability to fix the mind on present concerns due more to mental wandering than to concentration on other matters. an absent stare absentminded implies that the mind is fixed elsewhere and often refers to a habit of abstractedness. so absentminded, he's been known to wear mismatched shoes distracted may suggest an inability to concentrate caused by worry, sorrow, or anxiety. was too distracted by grief to continue working

Examples of preoccupied in a Sentence

too preoccupied with her worries to enjoy the meal
Recent Examples on the Web Female bees, looking for a home, are usually too preoccupied with their search to sting you. Lila Westreich, The Conversation, "Spring signals female bees to lay the next generation of pollinators," 1 May 2020 Wealthy donors may be more preoccupied with their own balance sheets than the financial health of their favorite charities. Ben Steverman,, "Nonprofits Prepare for Worst With Wealthy Losing Billions," 29 Apr. 2020 Jose Morillo, owner of Camp Bow Wow, a dog daycare and boarder in Katy, recommends handing out the treat puzzles right before important meetings to make the most of a preoccupied pup. Claire Goodman, Houston Chronicle, "Tips for dog owners working from home," 1 Apr. 2020 Devs is only the latest in a series of puzzle-box shows more preoccupied with their own cleverness and their labyrinthine twists than with the burden of watchability. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Why TV Is So Worried About Free Will," 11 Mar. 2020 Young fought back with one of his seven 3-pointers on the night, and while preoccupied with the guard, Indiana gave up a wide-open layup to Len to knot things at 99-apiece. Nathan Brown, Indianapolis Star, "Pacers survive Trae Young's 49-point burst, beat Hawks 105-104 in overtime," 29 Nov. 2019 But instead of mobilizing for what was coming, U.S. officials seemed more preoccupied with logistical problems, including how to evacuate Americans from China. Anchorage Daily News, "The U.S. was beset by denial and dysfunction as the coronavirus raged," 5 Apr. 2020 Trump has seemed more preoccupied with the economy sliding. cleveland, "Mike DeWine and Donald Trump might be headed for a showdown over coronavirus. How will DeWine respond?," 29 Mar. 2020 The Beast in the Jungle (1903), one of his younger brother Henry James's most famous stories, describes a man too preoccupied with a sense of doom to love. TheWeek, "How William James encourages us to believe in the possible," 2 Feb. 2020

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

1790, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for preoccupied

Time Traveler

The first known use of preoccupied was in 1790

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Statistics for preoccupied

Last Updated

17 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Preoccupied.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for preoccupied


How to pronounce preoccupied (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of preoccupied

: thinking about something a lot or too much


pre·​oc·​cu·​pied | \ prē-ˈä-kyə-ˌpīd How to pronounce preoccupied (audio) \

Kids Definition of preoccupied

: thinking about or worrying about one thing a great deal The kittens played right in front of him, but the Emperor was too preoccupied to notice.— Lloyd Alexander, Time Cat

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