From pre- + occupy, after Middle French preoccuper, and its source, Latin praeoccupo, praeoccupare. Doublet of preoccupate, now obsolete.
preoccupy (third-person singular simple present preoccupies, present participle preoccupying, simple past and past participle preoccupied)
- (transitive) To distract; to occupy or draw attention elsewhere. [from 16th c.]
- The father tried to preoccupy the child with his keys.
- (transitive, obsolete) To occupy or take possession of beforehand. [16th–19th c.]
- 1751, Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, vol. III, ch. 91:
- Terrified at this uproar, […] she ran for shelter into the place which was pre-occupied by the other lady […] .