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

Jim Moss, an attorney who specializes in recreation law, said that since the death of a woman at an adventure park in Grand Junction last year the state has become very proactive in shutting things down. Carina Julig, The Denver Post, "Accident leads to immediate shutdown of ‘giant swing’ devices in Colorado," 27 June 2019 Optimally, Roemich says, those conversations are proactive, not reactive. Vince Guerrieri, Popular Mechanics, "The Secret Tech Problem at Modern Art Museums," 24 June 2019 After Columbine, police academies shifted to a proactive approach., "Phoenix police shot at more people than NYPD did in 2018. Will that change?," 20 June 2019 There was not time to stop and make proactive moves. Karen Zurawski, Houston Chronicle, "Katy Christian Ministries awarded for Harvey response," 7 June 2019 Whereas reactive policing often responds after a crime has occurred, proactive policing at its best recognizes signs ahead of time or responds in the moment. Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, "Proactive police activity plummeted after new Louisville traffic stop policy unveiled," 5 June 2019 Alexa is already somewhat proactive with features like Alexa Guard, which lets Amazon Echo devices listen for suspicious sounds such as breaking glass. Rachel Metz, CNN, "Alexa will soon be able to book your date night — including dinner, movie, and a ride," 5 June 2019 In this instance, the message is loud and clear that neither proactive self-reporting nor exemplary cooperation is of any value to the committee. Dave Skretta, The Seattle Times, "Missouri files brief as it seeks to overturn NCAA sanctions," 25 Mar. 2019 Being proactive and vigilant about your health makes a difference. Alejandra Campoverdi, Glamour, "I Beat Breast Cancer Before I Even Knew I Had It," 29 Apr. 2019

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

4 Jul 2019

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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 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

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