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or pre-empt

[pree-empt] /priˈɛmpt/
verb (used with object)
to occupy (land) in order to establish a prior right to buy.
to acquire or appropriate before someone else; take for oneself; arrogate:
a political issue preempted by the opposition party.
to take the place of because of priorities, reconsideration, rescheduling, etc.; supplant:
The special newscast preempted the usual television program.
verb (used without object)
Bridge. to make a preemptive bid.
to forestall or prevent (something anticipated) by acting first; preclude; head off:
an effort to preempt inflation.
Bridge. a preemptive bid.
Origin of preempt
1840-50, Americanism; back formation from preemption
Related forms
preemptible, adjective
[pree-emp-tawr, -ter] /priˈɛmp tɔr, -tər/ (Show IPA),
[pree-emp-tuh-ree] /priˈɛmp tə ri/ (Show IPA),
unpreempted, adjective
1. claim, appropriate, usurp. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for pre-empt
Contemporary Examples
  • He'll be briefed on the risks of Iranian retaliation, and he will be offered a menu of options to pre-empt such retaliation.

  • According to the vice president, we will strive to prevent threats but not pre-empt them.

  • As a growing number of affiliates threatened to pre-empt the show, Gaspin said he realized “that this was not going to go well.”

  • Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations.

    Obama's Bad Trip Richard Wolffe November 17, 2009
Historical Examples
  • So late as 1872 an Indian received special permission to pre-empt one hundred acres.

  • The aim should be to pre-empt the ground for cleanness and truth.

    The Child in the Midst Mary Schauffler Labaree
  • If fortunate to find such, they at once pre-empt the old lodge and make it their home and headquarters.

    Canadian Wilds Martin Hunter
  • The favorite rumor was that the entire firm was a decoy to bewilder agents of foreign powers and pre-empt their espionage efforts.

    In the Control Tower Will Mohler
British Dictionary definitions for pre-empt


(transitive) to acquire in advance of or to the exclusion of others; appropriate
(transitive) (mainly US) to occupy (public land) in order to acquire a prior right to purchase
(intransitive) (bridge) to make a high opening bid, often on a weak hand, to shut out opposition bidding
Derived Forms
pre-emptor, noun
pre-emptory, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pre-empt

also preempt, 1830, "secure by pre-emtion," back-formation from pre-emption, originally American English. In the broascasting sense, it is attested from 1965, American English, a euphemism for "cancel." Related: pre-empted; preempted.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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