- 1pre-empt something to prevent something from happening by taking action to stop it Her departure pre-empted any further questions. A good training course will pre-empt many problems. The government announced it had pre-empted a coup attempt.
- 2pre-empt somebody/something to do or say something before somebody else does She was just about to apologize when he pre-empted her. I do not want to pre-empt anything that the treasurer is going to say. It would be wrong for me to pre-empt any future decision the committee might make.
- 3pre-empt something (North American English) to replace a planned programme on the television The scheduled programme will be pre-empted by a special news bulletin. Word Origin mid 19th cent.: back-formation from pre-emption.
BrE BrE//priˈempt//; NAmE NAmE//priˈempt//Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they pre-empt
BrE BrE//priˈempt//; NAmE NAmE//priˈempt//he / she / it pre-empts
BrE BrE//priˈempts//; NAmE NAmE//priˈempts//past simple pre-empted
BrE BrE//priˈemptɪd//; NAmE NAmE//priˈemptɪd//past participle pre-empted
BrE BrE//priˈemptɪd//; NAmE NAmE//priˈemptɪd//-ing form pre-empting
BrE BrE//priˈemptɪŋ//; NAmE NAmE//priˈemptɪŋ//