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pre-empt Line breaks: pre-empt
Pronunciation: /priˈɛmpt/

Definition of pre-empt in English:


[with object]
1Take action in order to prevent (an anticipated event) happening; forestall: the government pre-empted 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.
forestall, prevent;
steal a march on, anticipate, get in before
informal get one's retaliation in first
1.1Act in advance of (someone) in order to prevent them doing something: it looked as if she’d ask him more, but Parr pre-empted 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.
2Acquire or appropriate (something) in advance: many tables were already pre-empted 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.
2.1North American Occupy (public land) so as to have a pre-emptive right to buy it before others.
3 [no object] Bridge Make a pre-emptive bid.


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Mid 19th century: back-formation from pre-emption.

  • It you pre-empt someone, you get there first. The original Latin came from prae ‘in advance’ and emere ‘buy’. Pre-emption (early 17th century) was the earliest form of the word, pre-empt being formed from it. The same root lies behind premium (early 17th century).




Words that rhyme with pre-empt

attempt, contempt, dreamt, exempt, kempt, tempt

Definition of pre-empt in:

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