or pre-empt

[ pree-empt ]
See synonyms for: preemptpreemptedpreempting on

verb (used with object)
  1. to occupy (land) in order to establish a prior right to buy.

  2. to acquire or appropriate before someone else; take for oneself; arrogate: a political issue preempted by the opposition party.

  1. to take the place of because of priorities, reconsideration, rescheduling, etc.; supplant: The special newscast preempted the usual television program.

  2. to forestall or prevent (something anticipated) by acting first; preclude; head off: an effort to preempt inflation.

verb (used without object)
  1. Bridge. to make a preemptive bid.

  1. Bridge. a preemptive bid.

Origin of preempt

An Americanism first recorded in 1840–50; back formation from preemption

Other words for preempt

Other words from preempt

  • pre·emp·ti·ble [pree-emp-tuh-buhl], /priˈɛmp tə bəl/, adjective
  • pre·emp·tor [pree-emp-tawr, -ter], /priˈɛmp tɔr, -tər/, noun
  • pre·emp·to·ry [pree-emp-tuh-ree], /priˈɛmp tə ri/, adjective

Words Nearby preempt Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use preempt in a sentence

  • It was what is called a wind-break and I determined to preempt it for the night.

    The Indians' Last Fight | Dennis Collins
  • The woman who forgives and doesn't forget is trying to preempt heaven and raise hell.

    The Complete Cynic | Oliver Herford

British Dictionary definitions for pre-empt


/ (prɪˈɛmpt) /

  1. (tr) to acquire in advance of or to the exclusion of others; appropriate

  2. (tr) mainly US to occupy (public land) in order to acquire a prior right to purchase

  1. (intr) bridge to make a high opening bid, often on a weak hand, to shut out opposition bidding

Derived forms of pre-empt

  • 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