an attack against an enemy in response to an obvious threat of attack by that enemy: because preemptive strikes are prompted more by clearly imminent danger than by speculation, they generally are considered acceptable in international law.
WHO SAID IT: A QUIZ ON PRESIDENTIAL WIT AND WISDOM
Think you know your presidents? Take this quiz and see if you can match the style, wit, and ideology of these memorable lines to the right POTUS.
Question 1 of 9
“I do believe that the buck stops here, that I cannot rely upon public opinion polls to tell me what is right. I do believe that right makes might and that if I am wrong, 10 angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”
Compare preventive war.
Origin of preemptive strike
First recorded in 1955–60
Words nearby preemptive strike
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
Cultural definitions for preemptive strike
A first-strike attack with nuclear weapons carried out to destroy an enemy's capacity to respond. A preemptive strike is based on the assumption that the enemy is planning an imminent attack.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.