pro·​ac·​tive | \ (ˌ)prō-ˈak-tiv How to pronounce proactive (audio) \

Definition of proactive

1 [ 1pro- ] : relating to, caused by, or being interference between previous learning and the recall or performance of later learning proactive inhibition of memory
2 [ 2pro- + reactive ] : acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes

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Other Words from proactive

proactively adverb

Did You Know?

People who tend to react to a problem only when it's gotten serious could be called reactive people. Until recently, reactive (in this sense) didn't really have an antonym. So proactive was coined to describe the kind of person who's always looking into the future in order to be prepared for anything. A good parent attempts to be proactive on behalf of his or her children, trying to imagine the problems they might be facing in a few months or years. A company's financial officers study the patterns of the company's earnings to make sure it won't risk running short of cash at any point in the next year or two. Proactive has only been around a few decades, and it can still sometimes sound like a fashionable buzzword.

Examples of proactive in a Sentence

A survey was given out to customers so that the company could take proactive steps to improve their service. The city is taking a proactive approach to fighting crime by hiring more police officers.

Recent Examples on the Web

While the evidence is mixed, many companies say encouraging workers to be more proactive on wellness, with incentives from gift cards to discounts on health benefits, reduces health spending. Te-ping Chen, WSJ, "Your Company Wants to Know if You’ve Lost Weight," 11 Feb. 2019 If no one was going to ask about Kelly Olynyk during the Miami Heat coach's annual season-ending media session, then Spoelstra was going to be proactive with his audience. Ira Winderman,, "Spoelstra, Heat braced for another net gain with Kelly Olynyk 2.0," 29 Apr. 2018 Abbe Gluck, the faculty director of the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School, said Polster has been proactive with his settlement efforts. Eric Heisig,, "Cleveland federal judge's ambitious goal to settle hundreds of lawsuits against opioid companies this year might prove difficult," 21 Mar. 2018 But Ford has been more proactive than most of its competitors in exploring the non-technical aspects of a self-driving car service. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Walmart agrees to work with Ford on self-driving grocery delivery pilot," 14 Nov. 2018 Quakenbush noted that the department has been proactive in addressing the drug epidemic. John Tuohy, Indianapolis Star, "Hamilton County sheriff's race gets 'toxic'," 4 May 2018 In that hearing, Warner and others will press the platforms to be more proactive and transparent with foreign accounts and bots in the future. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "Lawmakers warn ‘time is running out’ in fight against online election interference," 1 Aug. 2018 This effort is part of a broader challenge to rework much of how Facebook operates to be more proactive about protecting our community from harm and taking a broader view of our responsibility overall. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Stop calling Facebook’s effort to fix itself an “arms race”," 14 Sep. 2018 Pence vowed the White House would take proactive measures to overhaul the country’s cyber-security systems, to prevent another attack. Bradford Betz, Fox News, "Trump inherited 'cyber-crisis' from Obama, VP Pence says at cybersecurity summit," 1 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'proactive.' 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 proactive

1933, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for proactive

Last Updated

11 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for proactive

The first known use of proactive was in 1933

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More Definitions for proactive



English Language Learners Definition of proactive

: controlling a situation by making things happen or by preparing for possible future problems


pro·​ac·​tive | \ (ˈ)prō-ˈak-tiv How to pronounce proactive (audio) \

Medical Definition of proactive

: relating to, caused by, or being interference between previous learning and the recall or performance of later learning proactive inhibition of memory

More from Merriam-Webster on proactive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with proactive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for proactive

Comments on proactive

What made you want to look up proactive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an enemy or opponent

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