proactive

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

Essential Meaning of proactive

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

Full Definition of proactive

1 [pro- entry 2 + reactive] : acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes Once patients have the big data about their bodies, the thinking goes, they can be proactive about their health, cut care costs and foster better relationships with their doctors.— Alexandra Sifferlin Proactive managers are planners; they anticipate crises rather than reel from them.— Michael Tannenbaum et al.
2 [pro- entry 1] psychology : relating to, caused by, or being interference between previous learning and the recall or performance of later learning Because of proactive interference, you may have difficulty remembering a new area code (you keep dialing the old one by mistake).— Jeffrey Nevid

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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 Companies must therefore be proactive about ensuring their customers are continuously satisfied. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 14 Oct. 2021 Many of the tensions and stress students are dealing with at school are also apparent at home, and Bishop said that knowing what’s happening with students can help educators be proactive about preventing tensions or outbursts from escalating. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Oct. 2021 Given her family’s medical history, Lee was proactive about her breast health. Essence, 4 Oct. 2021 Communications Manager Dawn Jenich, who will also run the page, said the goal is to allow the village to be more proactive about proving information. James T. Norman, chicagotribune.com, 14 Sep. 2021 The tragedy inspired her to start a company that takes requests for lab tests online, and delivers results to customers’ homes within three days, empowering people to be proactive about their medical care. Alexander Onukwue, Quartz, 20 Aug. 2021 Dialogues with the Biden team date back to shortly after the presidential election, before vaccines were widely available, as the incoming White House sought to be proactive about misinformation on tech platforms, the Biden officials said. Washington Post, 19 Aug. 2021 Biese said that hospitals need to distinguish caregivers from visitors and be proactive about deciding on visitor policies rather than having to make decisions on the fly. Claudia López Lloreda, STAT, 23 July 2021 Customers who have a bad experience on a website or app are less likely to return, so use your data analytics to be proactive in making improvements to load speeds and addressing technical issues immediately. Yaron Morgenstern, Forbes, 1 Oct. 2021

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 2

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Time Traveler for proactive

Time Traveler

The first known use of proactive was in 1933

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Dictionary Entries Near proactive

proactinomycete

proactive

proactively

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Last Updated

18 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Proactive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/proactive. Accessed 22 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for proactive

proactive

adjective
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

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