I need to explain the difference between "proactive" and "preemptive" and come up with a sample of the proper context of each word.

Can someone point me to a previous post or give me their thoughts?

  • These are completely different words. They may overlap in some areas, but a dictionary could help you understand the differences.
    – Robusto
    May 9, 2014 at 14:59

1 Answer 1


Essentially, the difference between pre-emptive and proactive seems to be that pre-emptive connotes some kind of action that prevents something from occurring, and proactive connotes some kind of action intended to provoke a reaction, or some kind initiating action. See these examples and the supplied links for even more examples.

pre-emptive on the Collins dictionary

Definitions adjective

  1. of, involving, or capable of pre-emption
  2. (bridge) (of a high bid) made to shut out opposition bidding
  3. (military) designed to reduce or destroy an enemy's attacking strength before it can use it ⇒ "a pre-emptive strike"


Another trial of pre-emptive pain relief was slightly more successful for patients undergoing thoracic surgery

proactive on the Collins dictionary

Definitions adjective

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


Effective progress during the traineeship depends very much on the individual taking a proactive approach to work.


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