pre·​oc·​cu·​pied | \(ˌ)prē-ˈä-kyə-ˌpīd \

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


absent, absentminded, abstracted, distracted



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Choose the Right Synonym for preoccupied

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

Even then, at least two jurors appeared stressed or preoccupied. Catherine Herridge, Jason Donner, Jake Gibson, Fox News, "Reporter's Notebook: Tension in Manafort trial courtroom as jury deliberates," 20 Aug. 2018 And elsewhere, America’s center of power kept doing business, perhaps too busy, uninterested, or preoccupied to drop everything and glue themselves to the television screens beaming out a stunning moment in U.S. history. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "A Tale of Two Cities: A Snapshot of Washington D.C. On the Historic Kavanaugh-Ford Hearing Day," 27 Sep. 2018 The actors, Vinberg foremost among them, are wonderfully unselfconscious, preoccupied not with the cliches of adolescence—looks, for one—but with less tangible qualities. Eve Macsweeney, Vogue, "Skate Kitchen Is Chock-Full of Memorable Characters," 10 Aug. 2018 Well, neither do women who are more preoccupied with seeming like total sweethearts than getting things done. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Feminism Doesn't Mean Liking Every Stupid Woman You Meet," 4 May 2017 Ultimately, advocates say, many people in poverty are too preoccupied trying to survive to worry about nutrition. Alfred Lubrano,, "Attacking people in poverty for buying birthday cakes and other treats with food stamps," 17 June 2018 In this country, USA Track & Field, the sport's national governing body seemingly has been too preoccupied with messes of its own making to do much about marketing its athletes. Ken Goe,, "What if you held a meet and nobody outside the stadium noticed? Oregon track & field rundown," 22 May 2018 Clubs became preoccupied with crowd control, often herding groups of spectators into large metal pens, and in 1989, at Hillsborough, in Sheffield, ninety-six Liverpool fans were crushed to death. Leo Robson, The New Yorker, "How We Watch Soccer Now," 5 Dec. 2016 The father of two and reality star is a little preoccupied with other projects. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "Sorry, But, Tarek El Moussa Isn't Dating Right Now," 15 June 2018

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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Last Updated

30 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for preoccupied

The first known use of preoccupied was in 1790

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More Definitions for preoccupied



English Language Learners Definition of preoccupied

: thinking about something a lot or too much


pre·​oc·​cu·​pied | \prē-ˈä-kyə-ˌpīd \

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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Comments on preoccupied

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


living or existing for a long time

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