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v. pre·empt·ed, pre·empt·ing, pre·empts
1. To take the place of or take precedence over: Discussion of the water shortage will preempt the other topics on this week's agenda.
a. To take action to prevent (an event or other action) from happening; forestall: "The [Joint] Chiefs ... proposed the use of nuclear weapons to preempt China's anticipated attack on Formosa" (James Carroll).
b. To take action to prevent (another) from acting.
a. To acquire or take for oneself before others; appropriate: "I've preempted the forward compartment [of the boat] with two berths shaped like a V ... to make myself a double bunk" (Joan Gould).
b. To gain possession of by prior right or opportunity, especially to settle on (public land) so as to obtain the right to buy before others.
To make a preemptive bid in bridge.
[Back-formation from preemption.]
pre·emp′tor′ (-ĕmp′tôr′) n.
pre·emp′to·ry (-ĕmp′tə-rē) adj.