pre·​oc·​cu·​py | \ (ˌ)prē-ˈä-kyə-ˌpī How to pronounce preoccupy (audio) \
preoccupied; preoccupying; preoccupies

Definition of preoccupy

transitive verb

1 : to engage or engross the interest or attention of beforehand or preferentially
2 : to take possession of or fill beforehand or before another

Examples of preoccupy in a Sentence

The question of life after death has preoccupied many philosophers.
Recent Examples on the Web Both artists were preoccupied with the abject side of the human body — the body as meat. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, "Artist Hyman Bloom’s body of work is revered. And the bodies are cadavers.," 31 July 2019 Most were preoccupied with the details of the mission and simply staying alive in the uniquely hostile environment. Daniel Oberhaus, WIRED, "Spaceflight and Spirituality, a Complicated Relationship," 16 July 2019 Others also weren't preoccupied by the politics thrust into the event. Jason Lalljee, USA TODAY, "‘Are you proud to be an American?’ Why Trump’s 4th of July was a tale of three different celebrations," 5 July 2019 Brussels will be preoccupied with getting a new commission approved by the European Parliament by November 1st. The Economist, "Tory candidates are misleading people about a no-deal Brexit," 13 June 2019 Most of the 235 attendees at the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) Celebration and Awards Gala were preoccupied Monday night in Toronto, as longtime players in the Canadian independent music sector were honored at the annual event. Karen Bliss, Billboard, "Canada's CIMA Awards Honors Six Shooter Records' Shauna de Cartier, Kim Cooke of Pheremone & More," 11 June 2019 Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is preoccupied with a bitter trade dispute with South Korea, another close U.S. ally. Eli Stokols, Los Angeles Times, "Discord dominates as Trump and other leaders head to G-7 summit," 22 Aug. 2019 But while art and antiquities are what draw millions of curious visitors to museums each year, that last matter has long preoccupied the people who work in them. Suyin Haynes, Time, "Why a Plan to Redefine the Meaning of 'Museum' Is Stirring Up Controversy," 9 Sep. 2019 One downside to SDSU’s run dominance since 2015 is that Aztecs receivers were preoccupied with blocking. San Diego Union-Tribune, "3 Thoughts on Aztecs’ 23-14 win over UCLA," 8 Sep. 2019

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

1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for preoccupy

Latin praeoccupare, literally, to seize in advance, from prae- + occupare to seize, occupy

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Statistics for preoccupy

Last Updated

3 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for preoccupy

The first known use of preoccupy was in 1567

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How to pronounce preoccupy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of preoccupy

: to be thought about or worried about by (someone) very often or constantly

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Comments on preoccupy

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


meddlesome, informal, or unofficial

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