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 Across the county, adults were preoccupied with whistleblowing and extortion and quid pro quo. Ty Vinson, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana 4th graders do their best to honor the flag, struggle to understand impeachment," 24 Nov. 2019 For years, Iraq has been preoccupied in its fight against ISIS. Rachael Bunyan, Time, "Over 300 Killed as Hundreds of Thousands Take Part in Iraqi Protests. What's Behind the Violent Demonstrations?," 13 Nov. 2019 Elsewhere, Gates is preoccupied with the ascot, a species of men’s neckwear that often signifies luxury and leisure. Sharon Mizota, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Theaster Gates, preaching at the altar of consumerism," 14 Oct. 2019 The controversy surrounding e-cigarette products and their effect on people's health has preoccupied many of the nation's retailers. Cyndi Schramm, Houston Chronicle, "Kroger and Walgreens ban sale of e-cigarette products," 8 Oct. 2019 In 2010 Republican lawmakers became preoccupied with a set of standards, contained in a law known as the Energy Independence and Security Act, aimed at boosting the energy efficiency of American household bulbs by 25%. The Economist, "Donald Trump’s dim decision to scrap Obama-era lightbulb rules," 9 Sep. 2019 Theater performances and museum exhibits are subject to censorship and increasingly present a vision of the nation’s past that is revanchist, anticommunist, and preoccupied with its medieval roots. Jacob Mikanowski, Harper's magazine, "The Call of the Drums," 21 July 2019 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

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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Statistics for preoccupy

Last Updated

1 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Preoccupy.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 9 December 2019.

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More Definitions for preoccupy


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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