pro·ac·tive | \(ˌ)prō-ˈak-tiv \

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

On skin care being a priority: My philosophy is to be proactive instead of reactive. Kathleen Hou, The Cut, "How Model Denise Bidot Gets Glowy, Non-Puffy Skin," 11 July 2018 The funding is meant to be proactive and reactive, lawmakers said. Gillian Mcgoldrick,, "Pa. approves $60 million for school safety," 22 June 2018 Actually, be proactive and use it to mandate equality., "My Truth In Letters," 26 Apr. 2018 The community is very active and proactive and very supportive., "Greater Boston homeowners share their reasons for buying where they did," 19 Apr. 2018 And so, the companies that are being very proactive and very forward thinking are coming up with the apps that really connect with the customers. NBC News, "Customer satisfaction with restaurants is up. Thank the robots.," 10 July 2018 Vicky Cutroneo, 50, of Woodbine, who is the outgoing president of the PTA Council of Howard County, supports the school board taking on a more proactive and collaborative role when addressing school crowding. Jess Nocera, Howard County Times, "Voters to narrow a wide field for Howard school board," 25 June 2018 Speakers included San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, who urged students to be proactive and cautious, and Columbine High School shooting survivor Crystal Miller, who said students should channel their passions to work for change. Krista Torralva, San Antonio Express-News, "Classroom talk turns into school safety symposium," 1 June 2018 If the question is not prompted, be proactive and always be honest and upfront. Marissa A. Ross, Bon Appetit, "How to Get the Most Out of Your Sommelier," 29 May 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

10 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for proactive

The first known use of proactive was in 1933

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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 \

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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Comments on proactive

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not any or not one

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