Definition of pre-empt in English:


Line breaks: pre-empt
Pronunciation: /priˈɛmpt


[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.
  • 3 [no object] Bridge Make a pre-emptive bid.


Bridge Back to top  
  • A pre-emptive bid.





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

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