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

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 One could, ostensibly, be convinced that Francesca was too preoccupied with such affairs to bother with her siblings’ dramas—or to promenade with them in a display of familial support when Anthony is left at the altar. ELLE, 14 Apr. 2022 Their voters are historically more preoccupied with social welfare protection, identity issues, and immigration than with international affairs. Colette Davidson, The Christian Science Monitor, 24 Mar. 2022 At the moment, however, the Fed is more preoccupied with the other part of its mandate: inflation. Nate Dicamillo, Quartz, 16 Mar. 2022 The talk of the town is the possible move of football megastar Diego Maradona to local club Napoli, but Fabietto is equally preoccupied with his aunt Patrizia (a disquieting Luisa Ranieri). Thomas Page, CNN, 24 Mar. 2022 As Jonathan becomes more fanatical in his quest to be accepted as a convert, Zalmy grows more preoccupied with the profane pleasures of roller disco and musical theater. Los Angeles Times, 14 Mar. 2022 Without universal masking, teachers become preoccupied with contact tracing and structuring classrooms to avoid close contacts, said Kevin Riemann, executive director of the Kansas National Education Association. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 8 Oct. 2021 Gut said her mother and brother were too preoccupied with the situation back home to speak to CNN. Ray Sanchez, CNN, 6 Mar. 2022 The fathers, many of whom worked corporate jobs, were too preoccupied to help raise their children. New York Times, 15 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of preoccupied

1790, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of preoccupied was in 1790

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Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Preoccupied.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for preoccupied


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

More from Merriam-Webster on preoccupied

Nglish: Translation of preoccupied for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of preoccupied for Arabic Speakers


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