Definition of preempt in English:



  • 1Take action in order to prevent (an anticipated event) from happening; forestall.

    ‘the government preempted a coup attempt’
    • ‘Although I am not sure, I believe legislation thus pre-empts any attempt to recover additional damages through a lawsuit.’
    • ‘So the agencies hope to pre-empt Congress, in part to preserve their own discretion.’
    • ‘Of course, the media is always trying to pre-empt events, but where there is smoke there is fire.’
    • ‘For this campaign Soviet troops used parachute formations on a large scale to occupy the ports of Dairen and Port Arthur to pre-empt an anticipated American landing.’
    • ‘Or, they may have decided to locate a store in Vancouver not because they believe they can make a profit there, but to pre-empt any of their global competitors from gaining the market share that Vancouver represents.’
    • ‘We don't want to pre-empt anything that people might want to do,’ said Mrs Taylor.’
    • ‘Naturally, the conversation turned towards the difficulties of dedicating time to the demands of competitive yacht racing, pre-empted by the pressure of official duties.’
    • ‘Often the coup is undertaken to pre-empt revolutionary change from below and impose a measure of reform from above.’
    • ‘France's move is intended to pre-empt such action.’
    • ‘Hedging or pre-empting foreign currency exposure is an ideal way to protect profitability.’
    • ‘Why don't these guys just talk and write like normal people in the first place, and thus pre-empt the ‘media misunderstandings’ they're always complaining about?’
    • ‘But on this occasion police pre-empted the event and warned drivers to keep away.’
    • ‘The intent is to be able to quickly pre-empt disasters like the outbreak of mad cow disease that struck Europe during the '90s.’
    • ‘First, it is clear the authorities did little or nothing to pre-empt the events of last year.’
    • ‘The last thing the nation needed was for its Prime Minister to pre-empt such a debate by writing his own preamble.’
    forestall, prevent
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    1. 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’
      • ‘Kirby sensed that Jason was about to negatively comment, so she pre-empted him with a warning remark to be nice.’
      • ‘I have not seen anything in the Minister's comments that suggest he was pre-empting anyone.’
      • ‘However, once again he was pre-empted when the earl of Arran (heir to the Stewart succession) was proclaimed governor of Scotland on 3 January 1543.’
      • ‘He was pre-empted by a question from the audience seeking an explanation as to why the former democratically-elected team had been sacked.’
      • ‘However, the giant pre-empted him by the simple expedient of hauling the prostrate felon off the ground by his hair and then dropping him when Grundle had scrambled clear.’
      • ‘Being a thoroughly honest person, I thought it would be wise to pre-empt any observant readers of this site, particularly the ones with long memories, who might recall an entry I posted here nearly eight months ago.’
      • ‘We would like to resolve this amicably but we were pre-empted.’
      • ‘Two translations of De Magnete appeared; although Thompson began first, he was pre-empted by P Fleury Mottelay's 1893 edition.’
      • ‘The company's spring meeting was the occasion for the shareholders to pre-empt the governing board by throwing down the gauntlet on finance and management of services.’
      • ‘But as we were leaving I spotted that our Sales guy had something to add so I quickly pre-empted him.’
      • ‘The central bank apparently decided to pre-empt the politicians, but the move has raised doubts about the true degree of its independence.’
      • ‘Velised pre-empted him, causing an ‘accident’ that killed my mother and my brother Daniel.’
    2. 1.2(of a broadcast) interrupt or replace (a scheduled program)
      ‘the violence preempted regular programming’
      • ‘In essence, you tell the unit, ‘I watch this show,’ and it does the rest, monitoring when an episode is a re-run or has been pre-empted for the week and acting accordingly.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Werden also said that the station will be pre-empting or running special editions of their regular programming in favour of women centred content.’
      • ‘If special programming pre-empted the news shows' broadcast in New York City, transcripts were analyzed when available.’
      • ‘I'm hoping for January 21, thus ensuring that the premiere of America Idol 2 will be pre-empted for war coverage, and I won't be forced to watch it with Natalie.’
      • ‘That live broadcast pre-empted Seven's Sunday Sunrise, giving Michael Pascoe a day off.’
  • 2Acquire or appropriate (something) in advance.

    ‘many tables were already preempted by family parties’
    • ‘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, take possession of, occupy, seize, arrogate, appropriate, take over, take, acquire, secure, reserve
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    1. 2.1North American Take (something, especially public land) for oneself so as to have the right of preemption.
  • 3Bridge
    [no object] Make a preemptive bid.


  • A preemptive bid.


Mid 19th century: back-formation from preemption.