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

But these founders hope streamlining the process of getting them will help women move from being reactive to proactive about fertility. Macaela Mackenzie, Glamour, "Do You Need a Fertility Test—Even If You’re Not Trying to Get Pregnant?," 13 Dec. 2018 Other cities have adopted similar laws Seattle’s law is being challenged as more and more cities adopt similar, proactive programs to help improve rental inspections. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Seattle’s mandatory rental inspection law challenged in lawsuit," 6 Dec. 2018 Business and political leaders had been seeking a merger for years, hoping to forge a proactive, well-funded and, most importantly, unified political force in Salem. The Oregonian/oregonlive,, "Business lobby's interim CEO says it needs to 'get cracking' after predecessor's firing," 14 Apr. 2018 The experience also led him to think about marketing in a more proactive away. Jane Wooldridge, miamiherald, "‘Pursue your passion’ -- even if business fails | Miami Herald," 25 Mar. 2018 Inter have so far been the most proactive in their attempts to bring in Barella., "Cagliari Set £44m Asking Price for Liverpool & Juventus Target Nicolo Barella," 8 Jan. 2018 Next: Han is working on figuring out how to turn prediction systems like her algorithms, which can be valuable tools for researchers already focused on sniffing out emerging diseases, into something more proactive, such as an early warning system. Mallory Locklear, Discover Magazine, "With Big Data and Predictive Analytics, Scientists Are Getting Smarter About Outbreaks," 8 Nov. 2018 Falmouth’s acting beach superintendent, Bruce Mogardo, says umbrella accidents at beaches in the Upper Cape town are a relatively rare occurrence – once or twice a summer – because his lifeguard team is proactive about preventing them. Katja Vujić,, "Here’s how to plant a beach umbrella so it doesn’t blow away," 2 May 2018 This data from these sensors will allow bridge crews to perform proactive maintenance on the bridge, reducing long-term costs and extending the life of the bridge. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Is This High-Tech Bridge a Path to Smarter Infrastructure?," 30 Nov. 2016

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

3 Jan 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 \

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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