verb (used with object), pre·oc·cu·pied, pre·oc·cu·py·ing.

to absorb or engross to the exclusion of other things.
to occupy beforehand or before others.

Origin of preoccupy

First recorded in 1560–70; pre- + occupy
Related formspre·oc·cu·pi·er, nouno·ver·pre·oc·cu·py, verb (used with object), o·ver·pre·oc·cu·pied, o·ver·pre·oc·cu·py·ing. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for preoccupy

Contemporary Examples of preoccupy

Historical Examples of preoccupy

  • To preoccupy this ground, therefore, seemed an important step.


    Jacob Abbott

  • And certainly he had enough to excite and preoccupy him just now.

    The Clique of Gold

    Emile Gaboriau

  • We should forget our successes if they cause pride or preoccupy the mind.

  • Other friends would come in and preoccupy her mind and heart.

    The Major

    Ralph Connor

  • We should not preoccupy the audience with our own personality.

British Dictionary definitions for preoccupy


verb -pies, -pying or -pied (tr)

to engross the thoughts or mind of
to occupy before or in advance of another

Word Origin for preoccupy

C16: from Latin praeoccupāre to capture in advance, from prae before + occupāre to seize, take possession of
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 preoccupy

1560s, from pre- + occupy. Related: Preoccupied; preoccupying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper