or pre-emp·tive

[ pree-emp-tiv ]
/ priˈɛmp tɪv /


of or relating to preemption.
taken as a measure against something possible, anticipated, or feared; preventive; deterrent: a preemptive tactic against a ruthless business rival.
preempting or possessing the power to preempt; appropriative; privileged: a commander's preemptive authority.
Bridge. pertaining to, involving, or noting an opening bid or an overcall in a suit that is at an unnecessarily high level and that is essentially a defensive maneuver designed to make communication between one's opponents more difficult: a preemptive bid; to give a preemptive response.

Origin of preemptive

An Americanism dating back to 1785–95; preempt + -ive
Related formspre·emp·tive·ly, adverb
Can be confusedperemptory preemptive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pre-emptive

British Dictionary definitions for pre-emptive


/ (prɪˈɛmptɪv) /


of, involving, or capable of pre-emption
bridge (of a high bid) made to shut out opposition bidding
military designed to reduce or destroy an enemy's attacking strength before it can use ita pre-emptive strike
Derived Formspre-emptively, adverb
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-emptive



also preemptive, 1806, "pertaining to preemption;" from pre-emption + -ive. Specifically of an attack on an enemy who is plotting his own attack, 1958, a term from the Cold War. Related: Pre-emptively; preemptively.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper