Definition of preempt in English:


Syllabification: pre·empt
Pronunciation: /prēˈempt


[with object]
  • 1Take action in order to prevent (an anticipated event) from happening; forestall: the government preempted a coup attempt
    More example sentences
    • Often the coup is undertaken to pre-empt revolutionary change from below and impose a measure of reform from above.
    • But on this occasion police pre-empted the event and warned drivers to keep away.
    • First, it is clear the authorities did little or nothing to pre-empt the events of last year.
  • 1.1Act in advance of (someone) in order to prevent them from doing something: it looked as if she’d ask him more, but Parr preempted her
    More example sentences
    • He was pre-empted by a question from the audience seeking an explanation as to why the former democratically-elected team had been sacked.
    • But as we were leaving I spotted that our Sales guy had something to add so I quickly pre-empted him.
    • We would like to resolve this amicably but we were pre-empted.
  • 1.2(Of a broadcast) interrupt or replace (a scheduled program): the violence preempted regular programming
    More example sentences
    • If special programming pre-empted the news shows' broadcast in New York City, transcripts were analyzed when available.
    • That live broadcast pre-empted Seven's Sunday Sunrise, giving Michael Pascoe a day off.
    • When they arrived at the studio, Johnny and Sarah were put in a dressing room, where Miss Roc explained that the scheduled show was being pre-empted for them.
  • 2Acquire or appropriate (something) in advance: many tables were already preempted by family parties
    More example sentences
    • Community groups are right to complain about the Ontario Municipal Board and the way it pre-empts the land-use decisions of municipal councils while destroying the relative permanence of Official Plans.
    commandeer, occupy, seize, arrogate, appropriate, take over, secure, reserve
  • 2.1North American Take (something, especially public land) for oneself so as to have the right of preemption.
  • 3 [no object] Bridge Make a preemptive bid.


Bridge Back to top  
  • A preemptive bid.





mid 19th century: back-formation from preemption.

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