Definition of preoccupy in English:



  • (of a matter or subject) dominate or engross the mind of (someone) to the exclusion of other thoughts.

    ‘his mother was preoccupied with paying the bills’
    ‘she seemed a bit preoccupied’
    • ‘What preoccupies me more is that I'm entering a new stage in my life, with a little girl who we want and the next couple of weeks are going to be very hectic.’
    • ‘I know that there's a lot of things that I really could be doing with this, but I'm not - every time I seem to put pen to paper, this is the stuff that's preoccupying me.’
    • ‘Although he makes provision for his soul, it is only in general terms and he is not preoccupied with the matter.’
    • ‘It looks like the rising number of minorities in the prison system is a chronic problem that will preoccupy us for a long time.’
    • ‘Rita is not a mere love interest but a heroine, and her presence brings a refreshing jolt of practicality that contrasts with the mind games that preoccupy the male characters.’
    • ‘I talk about things that preoccupy me, but I've got nothing significant to add to the greater good.’
    • ‘The magistrate was preoccupied with other matters and was not listening closely.’
    • ‘I am so preoccupied with my obsessions that I am not capable of seeing one step back or one step ahead.’
    • ‘But these problems, the ones that preoccupy people in their daily lives, are to do with the fact that the transport system isn't good enough.’
    • ‘The outcome will preoccupy historians for centuries.’
    • ‘Being with friends, entertaining and creating a luxurious setting all preoccupy you.’
    • ‘It is a worry that preoccupies many parents of older children, who find that childcare provision such as after-school clubs usually stops after primary, and whose 13 and 14-year-olds are often embarrassed by the idea of babysitters.’
    • ‘Our flight from rationality is evidenced in other panics which currently preoccupy us.’
    • ‘Treatment is tailored to the specific concerns that preoccupy each person.’
    • ‘Why do sectarian issues so preoccupy these young people?’
    • ‘Precisely what the housekeeper would have ready for them was the matter preoccupying Carolyn's mind at the moment.’
    • ‘This reflects the fact the subjects other than food have tended to preoccupy classical scholars.’
    • ‘What kind of ideas or things are preoccupying you or inspiring you now in the work you're creating?’
    lost in thought, deep in thought, immersed in thought, in a brown study, pensive, brooding, absent-minded, distracted, abstracted, distrait, heedless, far away, oblivious
    engross, concern, absorb, dominate, take up someone's whole attention, take up all of someone's time, distract, obsess, occupy, grip, enthral, consume, haunt, prey on someone's mind, become an obsession with, be uppermost in someone's mind, take control of
    obsessed, concerned
    View synonyms


Mid 16th century: from pre- + occupy, suggested by Latin praeoccupare seize beforehand.