• synonyms


or pre-emp·tion

[pree-emp-shuh n]
  1. the act or right of claiming or purchasing before or in preference to others.
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Origin of preemption

1595–1605; < Medieval Latin praeëmpt(us) bought beforehand (past participle of praeëmere) + -ion. See pre-, emptor
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pre-emption

Historical Examples

  • By claiming its discovery under the mining laws, or by pre-emption?

    The Story of a Mine

    Bret Harte

  • It had been said that North Carolina had no right but that of pre-emption.

  • In 1838 they built the "Pre-Emption," which was also run by the two brothers.

  • There was an odd genius in the town who claimed these wrecks by pre-emption.

    A Breeze from the Woods, 2nd Ed.

    William Chauncey Bartlett

  • This pre-emption is where the dam and mills have since been erected at North Hudson.

    Fifty Years In The Northwest

    William Henry Carman Folsom

British Dictionary definitions for pre-emption


  1. law the purchase of or right to purchase property in advance of or in preference to others
  2. international law the right of a government to intercept and seize for its own purposes goods or property of the subjects of another state while in transit, esp in time of war
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Word Origin

C16: from Medieval Latin praeemptiō, from praeemere to buy beforehand, from emere to buy
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

Word Origin and History for pre-emption


also preemption, c.1600, literally "the right of purchasing before others," from pre- "before" + emption.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper