from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of, relating to, or characteristic of preemption.
  • adj. Having or granted by the right of preemption.
  • adj. Relating to or constituting a military strike made so as to gain the advantage when an enemy strike is believed to be imminent: a preemptive nuclear attack.
  • adj. Undertaken or initiated to deter or prevent an anticipated, usually unpleasant situation or occurrence: The two companies organized a preemptive alliance against a possible takeover by another firm.
  • adj. Having or marked by the power to preempt or take precedence: a preemptive business offer; preemptive authority.
  • adj. Games Relating to or being a bid in bridge at a high level that is intended to interfere with the opponents' bidding.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of or relating to preemption.
  • adj. Made so as to deter an anticipated unpleasant situation.
  • adj. Intended to interfere with an opponent's bidding.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. designed or having the power to deter or prevent an anticipated situation or occurrence


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

preempt +‎ -ive.


  • The term preemptive gets bantered around a lot on thie subject of this war but preventive is more accurate, although its sounds a lot less P(ublic)R(elations)-correct.

    Can This Argument Be Won?

  • No. I actually -- I have some celebrities who do what I call a preemptive strike like one time Alec Baldwin came up to me and whispered in my ear, I think you're hilarious.

    CNN Transcript Jun 6, 2008

  • Preventive war has been described as an important element of the Bush Doctrine, although the U.S. government read bushco doublespeak uses the term preemptive in a way which is partly consistent with international usage…

    Firedoglake » Are We Already at War in Iran?

  • We both now practice what we call preemptive oversight.

    CNN Transcript Nov 2, 2005

  • The French destroyed the country's Air Force in what it called a preemptive strike after an attack killed nine French troops over the weekend.

    CNN Transcript Nov 9, 2004

  • MILLER: Well, I think that this is part of a gradual shift that we have seen in the administration towards what we call a preemptive doctrine.

    CNN Transcript Jun 17, 2002

  • There was the removal of the U.N. Troops, the closure of the Straits of Tiran, and then the Israelis attacked in what they call a preemptive move.

    This Side of Peace

  • Strategic Command charged with, among other things, ensuring that we dominate the heavens, and the newest of all the “geographic” commands, CYBERCOM, expected to be fully operational later this fall with “1,000 elite military hackers and spies under one four-star general” prepared to engage in preemptive war in cyberspace.

    Tom Engelhardt: A World Made by War: How Old Will You Be When the American War State Goes Down?

  • Most of the activists were arrested over the weekend in preemptive house raids.

    05 « September « 2008 « Niqnaq

  • In a way, ventures into Afghanistan and the current Iraq "fiasco," plus countless covert or proxy moves worldwide, translate into a long-term preemptive strategy that future presidents will use to full advantage.

    Charles D. Ellison: The Predictable President


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