[pree-ok-yuh-pey-shuh n, pree-ok-]


the state of being preoccupied.
an act of preoccupying.

Origin of preoccupation

1530–40; < Latin praeoccupātiōn- (stem of praeoccupātiō) a taking possession beforehand. See pre-, occupation
Related formso·ver·pre·oc·cu·pa·tion, nounself-pre·oc·cu·pa·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for preoccupation

Contemporary Examples of preoccupation

Historical Examples of preoccupation

  • He is the one thing that is hated, and the only preoccupation.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • It was impossible for her to conceal her preoccupation and anxiety.

  • “No doubt it is the preoccupation of genius,” remarked Mrs. Dickens.

    Cap'n Warren's Wards

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • The office force noticed his preoccupation and commented upon it.

    The Portygee

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • Despite his preoccupation, Captain Zelotes could not help smiling.

    The Portygee

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for preoccupation


preoccupancy (priːˈɒkjʊpənsɪ)


the state of being preoccupied, esp mentally
something that holds the attention or preoccupies the mind
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 preoccupation

1550s, "state of occupying beforehand," from Latin praeoccupationem (nominative praeoccupatio) "a seizing beforehand, anticipation," noun of action from past participle stem of praeoccupare, from prae- "before" (see pre-) + occupare "seize" (see occupy). Meaning "mental absorption" is from 1854. Earlier its secondary sense was "bias, prejudice" (c.1600).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper