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

Mailer, who died the year this book was published, seemed particularly preoccupied with the role of technology at the time. New York Times, "New & Noteworthy Memoirs, From Prison to Boxing to Sexism," 5 July 2019 Foundational work by psychiatrist Irvin Yalom found that children are preoccupied with death from an early age, and also that these thoughts can be both haunting and pervasive. Washington Post, "When death goes to the movies: How to help kids cope with the scary stuff," 2 July 2019 But there’s no question that Bell and WR Juju Smith-Schuster were also elite talents who kept defensive coordinators preoccupied. Michael Beller,, "Season of the Switch: How Will Top Fantasy Stars Fare With Their New Teams?," 1 July 2019 BART’s directors, like its riders, have become preoccupied with social issues that keep welling up on the system, such as scofflaws who hop gates and the swelling homeless population. Rachel Swan,, "BART board approves budget, including fare hike compromise," 13 June 2019 Made with premium Nappa leather and impact-resistant polycarbonate, this case will protect your precious pair of AirPods securely and in style, as well as keep your hands preoccupied. Popular Mechanics, "This AirPods Case Is Also a Fidget Spinner," 11 Apr. 2019 That era’s long legal aftermath preoccupied a generation of conservatives, driving their determination to change the law’s trajectory by seating like-minded judges on the federal bench. Brent Kendall, WSJ, "Brett Kavanaugh’s Record Shows Push to Restrain the Regulatory State," 31 Aug. 2018 The White House may be preoccupied with Iran's past pursuit of nuclear weapons and its present strategic status in the region. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, "Saudi Arabia and the arms race that you've not heard enough about," 8 June 2019 With just five months to go until the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union, the nation is now preoccupied by a Conservative Party leadership contest, and Brexit talks have stalled. Eshe Nelson, Quartz, "Brexit chaos has lost London its spot as the world’s top financial center," 1 June 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

14 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for preoccupy

The first known use of preoccupy was in 1567

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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

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characterized by aphorism

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