Definition of preempt in English:

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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.





Pronunciation: /-tər/


Mid 19th century: back-formation from preemption.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pre·empt

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