There's a word, I think that starts with a 'p', that describes doing something to solve a situation before it happens. For example, if a hurricane is approaching a store might take __ action to prepare for the flood of people that might come. In a fictional world, an organization might take __ action against crime based on some foreknowledge of a person's future actions.


It's not "preparatory", "precautionary", or "preventative".

  • 5
    Pre-emptive, perhaps?
    – Mick
    Oct 24, 2016 at 21:52
  • 1
    Yes! Preemptive is the word I was looking for.
    – AaronF
    Oct 24, 2016 at 21:54
  • This reminds me of my question I asked almost in time with yours. I was wondering about a word to describe the act of positioning yourself as if to intercept a serve (in a racket sport). someone suggested "Jump on". I thought that described it well. Your phrasing of the question has led to interesting responses as well.
    – shaunxer
    Oct 25, 2016 at 6:18

3 Answers 3


Preparatory would describe an action you do to prepare for something else.

Preventative describes an action that can stop a problem from occurring.

Preemptive describes something you do before it is necessary, often as some kind of hedge against something that could occur in the future.

Proactive means to do things before they are absolutely necessary, but I wouldn't call anything a "proactive action". I might say somebody took a "proactive step" or something of that nature.

  • Proactive might be it, but I'm not sure. It doesn't feel quite right.
    – AaronF
    Oct 24, 2016 at 21:53
  • 1
    Preemptive is it. That's been bugging me for so long!
    – AaronF
    Oct 24, 2016 at 21:55
  • 2
    There's also prophylactic (in its "preventative" sense).
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 24, 2016 at 22:13

Proactive might fit here as well. Rather than be reactive (after the fact) he was proactive (taking action before the fact).

  • Yeah. That's a good word too. That would definitely fit with the first sentence. I should have thought of a better sentence for describing preemptive.
    – AaronF
    Oct 24, 2016 at 23:06
  • Still valuable to think about. Love the process of honing my slightly rusty skills.
    – Dave
    Oct 26, 2016 at 22:21


OP asks for "In a fictional world, an organization might take __ action against crime based on some foreknowledge of a person's future actions."

They are likely thinking, at least in part, of the film Minority Report.

Minority Report is a 2002 American science fiction action film directed by Steven Spielberg, loosely based on the 1956 short story "The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick. The film is set in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia in the year 2054, where Precrime, a specialized police department, apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called "precogs".

The organization Precrime would take 'precognitive action', preventing crimes through using their institutional knowledge of the future. From its roots, 'precognitive' literally means foreknowledge.

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