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 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 The potential threat from Iran bubbles beneath the main concern now preoccupying U.S. Jews and other minorities from white supremacists, who in the past year have committed massacres in El Paso and Pittsburgh, as well as deadly attacks elsewhere. Ron Kampeas,, "As U.S.-Iran tensions escalate, Jews are warned they could be targeted," 27 Aug. 2019 Really, the exile preoccupying The Gift is mostly implied. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Beyoncé Remixed the Meaning of The Lion King," 26 July 2019 There were moments when Mullin sensed that the Rockets were preoccupied with dribbling into the lane with the goal of kicking the ball to the perimeter for 3-pointers. Scott Cacciola, New York Times, "Courtside With Run TMC, Watching the Rockets Miss, Miss and Miss Some More," 21 May 2018 The Democratic party in particular, when it is not preoccupied with impeaching our current president, is just now stuck on radical reform. Joseph Epstein, National Review, "Our Fable of the Bees," 11 July 2019 Welker’s not preoccupied with who’s in front of him at the major league level, either, i.e. Nolan Arenado. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "As Colton Welker readies for Arizona Fall League, he’s not focused on the third baseman ahead of him," 30 Aug. 2019 He was preoccupied with the latter part, which involves getting students hired so the school can earn money from ISAs. Gregory Barber, WIRED, "Lambda School's For-Profit Plan to Solve Student Debt," 26 Aug. 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

7 Oct 2019

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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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