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

transitive verb

: to engage or engross the interest or attention of beforehand or preferentially
: 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 Shakespeare was a master of depicting the kinds of universal experiences — lust, betrayal, self-disgust, fear — that might preoccupy a young literary-minded student. Talya Zax, Washington Post, 26 June 2024 An increasing number of China’s foreign policy experts now think that war over Taiwan is more likely than not, and U.S. policymakers are preoccupied with the question of how best to support the island. Odd Arne Westad, Foreign Affairs, 13 June 2024 Estate planners saw a spike in wills and trusts at the pandemic’s peak, a time when many Americans were stuck in their homes and preoccupied with their health. Daniel De Visé, USA TODAY, 4 Apr. 2024 This is the time of a season when baseball should be preoccupied with celebrating and selling hope to each fan base. Bob Raissman, New York Daily News, 30 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for preoccupy 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'preoccupy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of preoccupy was in 1567

Dictionary Entries Near preoccupy

Cite this Entry

“Preoccupy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


pre·​oc·​cu·​py (ˈ)prē-ˈäk-yə-ˌpī How to pronounce preoccupy (audio)
: to hold the attention of beforehand
: to take possession of before another
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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