View synonyms for proactive


[ proh-ak-tiv ]


  1. serving to prepare for, intervene in, or control an expected occurrence or situation, especially a negative or challenging one; anticipatory:

    The new guidelines will help industry employers develop proactive measures to keep their workplaces safe.


/ prəʊˈæktɪv /


  1. tending to initiate change rather than reacting to events
  2. psychol of or denoting a mental process that affects a subsequent process

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Other Words From

  • pro·ac·tive noun
  • pro·ac·tiv·i·ty [proh-ak-, tiv, -i-tee], pro·ac·tive·ness noun
  • pro·ac·tive·ly adverb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of proactive1

First recorded in 1930–35; pro- 1 + active

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Word History and Origins

Origin of proactive1

C20: from pro- ² + ( re ) active

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Example Sentences

Investigators have moved from being perpetually on the back foot to being more proactive, with the result that many exchanges have responded with new rules and controls that simply did not exist before.

Take a bank like M&T — they say they are being proactive, but from the outside, you really have no idea.

From Ozy

I don’t have the same implicit sense of how my team and colleagues are doing, so I need to be more proactive to check in.

From Fortune

It has a lot to do with very specific, proactive efforts taken by the generation of women above me who launched the Women in Topology network.

To do that, employers and hiring managers need to look at who is in their networks — if everyone looks like or acts like them, they need to take proactive steps to expand their reach.

From Digiday

These are reactive, not proactive, stances, and they do little to offer substantive solutions.

There seems to be a proactive disregard for knowing or caring about their lives and plight.

Without a dedicated and proactive rescue force, campaigners fear, the death toll in the Mediterranean will skyrocket.

Just as there are clear upsides to these types of proactive efforts in the corporate sector, there are downsides to not doing so.

The reality is something less proactive than reactive, not an initiative but a condition—a matter of identity.

So one cannot say that law, as opposed to politics, is not proactive.


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More About Proactive

What does proactive mean?

Proactive is the opposite of reactive. Actions that are proactive are initiated not in reaction to a situation but instead out of a desire to make a positive change, prepare for a situation, or prevent something from happening.

Proactive is commonly used to describe people who take such actions. It’s also commonly used in the phrase proactive measures, meaning proactive actions, especially those done to prevent a negative situation.

Example: Henry credits most of his success to being proactive instead of waiting for opportunities to come to him.

Where does proactive come from?

The first records of proactive come from the 1930s. It’s formed with the prefix pro-, which in this case is used to mean “before.” (When used in other words, like procrastinate, pro- often means “forward” or “outward.”)

People who procrastinate are not proactive—they wait until the last minute to do things. Proactive people do things ahead of time. Specifically, they take initiative, as opposed to simply reacting when things happen. People are often praised for being proactive when their proactive measures are recognized for having prevented something negative from happening or having helped to make it not quite as bad as it could have been if such actions hadn’t been taken.

For example, city officials can be proactive by building up a budget surplus that can be used in times of emergency. A student can be proactive by starting to research a topic that they know will be addressed in upcoming classes. An employee can be proactive by taking actions to address a problem that might happen in the future. In most cases, being proactive involves anticipating what’s going to happen and then taking action instead of waiting to react to it.

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What are some other forms related to proactive?

  • proactively (adverb)
  • proactivity (noun)
  • proactiveness (noun)

What are some words that share a root or word element with proactive

What are some words that often get used in discussing proactive?

How is proactive used in real life?

Proactive is always used positively, especially when recognizing people whose actions have helped to prevent negative situations or helped to make them not as bad as they could have been.



Try using proactive!

Which of the following words would NOT be used to refer to someone who’s being proactive?

A. go-getter
B. procrastinator
C. prepared
D. gung-ho




proactionproactive inhibition