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preempt (verb) do or say something before others say or do it

When you preempt what someone is planning to do, you do it before they do it, and thus make their doing it unnecessary or ineffective. When you preempt something you prevent its happening by taking action to stop it. You prevent a person attacking you by your attacking them first. Israel has remained strong because on a number of occasions it preempted Arab attacks on it. As soon as it knew of any Arab plans to attack it, it used to attack them beforehand and thus put the Arabs on the defensive.

  • She preempted their designs to criticize her by criticizing them before they started criticizing her. Thus she was able to prevent them from making any complaints about her.
  • George was clever enough preempt the managementís plans to transfer him by offering to resign. The management was taken by surprise at his move and dropped the idea of transferring him.
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Last Modified : 11-May 2009
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