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See also: perempt, preëmpt, and pre-empt


Alternative forms[edit]


Back-formation from preemption.


  • enPR: prē'-ĕmpt′, IPA(key): /ˌpɹiː.ˈɛmpt/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛmpt


preempt (third-person singular simple present preempts, present participle preempting, simple past and past participle preempted)

  1. (transitive) To appropriate first.
    He preempted that hill to be its king.
    • 1913, R. L. Hill, Brood Sows and Their Litters: A Practical Book on how to Handle the Brood Sow and Her Litter. What to Feed, when to Feed and how to Feed. Also how to Care for the Litter, page 66:
      When they have preempted their ground [=their particular teat] they want to keep it, so you often see a fight, but see that there is only one claim made and then the old sow will not be disturbed. When once ranged they will always seek the same place.
    • 1980, United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Proposed Constitutional Amendment to Balance the Federal Budget: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Ninety-sixth Congress, First Session [...], page 582:
      [...] the losers complaining that their party may see another popular issue preempted by what one of them called "born-again Democratic fiscal conservatives."
  2. (transitive) To displace or take the place of (by having higher precedence, etc).
    Floppy disks were preempted by CDs.
    • 1993, United States. Congress. House. Committee on Energy and Commerce. Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance, National Communications Infrastructure[1], page 173:
      Similarly, in order to realize fully the benefits to consumers of increased competition in telecommunications, the Administration proposes to preempt state entry regulation for provision of telecommunications and information services.
    • 2008, Shari Shattuck, Speak of the Devil, Penguin, →ISBN, page 5:
      Leah and Jenny's friendship had happened upon them quickly because of a shared harrowing experience that had preempted the usual years of trust building .
    • 2011, David Fraser, And We Shall Shock Them: The British Army in the Second World War, A&C Black, →ISBN:
      A German move from the west had preempted them. By nightfall the whole Sidi Rezegh Ridge was in German occupation.
  3. (transitive) To prevent or beat to the punch, to forestall an expected occurrence by acting first.
    • 1985, Thomas M. Franck, Nation Against Nation: What Happened to the U.N. Dream and What the U.S. Can Do About It, Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 35:
      By his statement, the Secretary-General had effectively preempted the usual frustrating debates over questions of fact and law.
    • 2009, ‎Robert E. Plamondon, Blue thunder, page 372:
      But when it came time to hear from Charest on the evening of the razor-thin federalist victory, Jean Chretien deliberately preempted his appearance on national television.
    • 2009, Robb Forman Dew, The Time of Her Life:
      In fact, before Jane said anything at all, Claudia preempted her and began to speak very rapidly.
    • 2011, Matt Hults, Anything Can be Dangerous, Books of the Dead Press:
      [] the knife when he passed it, managing to pull it from the doorframe, but Riverwind preempted his action and slammed the pistol-butt down on his wrist.
    • 2016, K. M. Daughters, Fill the Stadium, The Wild Rose Press Inc, →ISBN:
      She preempted his denial holding out a flat palm in his direction. “Do not play games with me, Mr. Cooper. Give me the notebook.” She advanced toward his ...
    • 2017, Cynthia L Evetts; Suzanne M Peloquin, Mindful Crafts as Therapy: Engaging More Than Hands, F.A. Davis, →ISBN, page 7:
      The nurse's attention to his room and skin temperature preempted his discomfort. Professional coldness prevailed. How differently might Beisser have felt ...
    • 2018, Cris E. Haltom, ‎Cathie Simpson, ‎Mary Tantillo, Understanding Teen Eating Disorders:
      Distressed and embarrassed from the previous night's group messaging, he figured he would appear more trustworthy and self-responsible to the guidance counselor if he preempted his friends' report and confessed the eating disorder.
    • 2019, (Please provide the book title or journal name), page 37:
      He always preempted his enemies by being the first to greet them and inquiring about their well-being.
  4. (transitive) To secure (land, etc.) by the right of preemption (purchasing before others, e.g. land because one already occupies it).
  5. (bridge, intransitive) To make a preemptive bid at bridge.


  • (supersede): ninja (internet slang)

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


preempt (plural preempts)

  1. (bridge) A preemptive bid.