Peremptory vs pre-emptory

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Peremptory means commanding immediate attention, decisive, not open to debate, dogmatic. In legal terms, peremptory means final, not open to debate. Related words are peremptorily, peremptoriness. The word peremptory dates from the mid-1400s, it is derived from the Latin word peremptorius  which means final or decisive.

Pre-emptory describes an action taken to forestall something happening. A pre-emptory action is taken in advance of an anticipated outcome, in order to prevent that outcome from happening. Pre-emptory is an adjective, it first appeared in 1822. Related words are pre-empt, pre-emptor, pre-emption, pre-emptive. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, pre-emptory is properly spelled with a hyphen, to underscore that each of the letter e‘s in pre-emptory are pronounced separately, though the word is sometimes seen without the hyphen, as in preemptory.


There’s a Chick Corea-like bounce to the sunny Samba City, the peremptory chordwork of Ahmad Jamal rings against the bass vamp of the soulful Loved Ones, and Edwards plays a glowing Fender Rhodes on the quietly hip-hoppish title track, and some of the earthiest improv on the set in the closing stages of the Ray Charlesian soul-blues Down But Not Out. (The Guardian)

The peremptory way Kyoko demands “my 100,000 yen” for child support reveals her attachment to money. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Too often, just as the moral dialogue becomes really interesting, we hear the peremptory and dismissive replies: “You do you, and I’ll do me” and “don’t be judgmental!” (The Duke Chronicle)

Unless prosecutors show good cause for not disclosing certain information to the indicting grand jury in 2011, Ramirez said the court may issue a pre-emptory writ, which could essentially grant Larson’s petition to dismiss the case. (The San Bernadino County Sun)

The first prosecution, of Shamai Leibowitz, a linguist working on contract for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, accused Leibowitz of using Israeli embassy wiretaps to reveal that Israel was waging a campaign to persuade the public to back a pre-emptory strike against Iran.(Barron’s Magazine)

As of Wednesday evening, more than 400 faculty members had signed a petition expressing strong opposition to any “preemptory action” by Napolitano to remove her without consulting campus administrators or the Academic Senate. (The Los Angeles Times)