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 But no one pretends to know what is in Putin’s mind or whether the new unrest in Kazakhstan will preoccupy him and make a move in Ukraine less likely. Steven Erlanger,, 7 Jan. 2022 Many other issues, including soaring inflation and a pandemic with no end in sight, rightly preoccupy Americans. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 15 Dec. 2021 Moore said her support in the wealthier, whiter section of Buckhead would be an asset in trying to squelch a secession movement in the area, an effort likely to preoccupy the first year of the next mayor's term. Jeff Amy, ajc, 30 Nov. 2021 The pavilion will provide bench seating and a coloring table to preoccupy younger children, but audience members are encouraged to bring their own folding chairs. Washington Post, 1 July 2021 Across France questions over the place of Islam in French society and tensions over immigration have come to preoccupy many and have pushed the electorate rightward. Noemie Bisserbe, WSJ, 20 June 2021 But to preoccupy ourselves with a debate on whether our current state is or is not racist misses the educative point altogether. Raymond Pierce, Forbes, 16 June 2021 Relationships preoccupy Phoenix friends: divorcee Bernadine, careerist Savannah, popular Robin, and Gloria, whose ex-husband is gay. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, 2 Apr. 2021 Airborne turtles that strike cars are the stuff of fanciful (yet real) stories and not a matter that needs to preoccupy your mind while at the steering wheel of a moving car. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 6 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for preoccupy

Time Traveler

The first known use of preoccupy was in 1567

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Last Updated

13 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Preoccupy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

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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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