preemptive strike

1955–60 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

preemptive strike definition

A first-strike attack with nuclear weapons carried out to destroy an enemy's capacity to respond. A preemptive strike is based on the assumption that the enemy is planning an imminent attack.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The principle of preemptive strike is an abomination that cannot flourish in a
  real democracy.
If you declare preemptive strike on others with all sorts of weapons it's
  impossible to stop others from developing their own.
We might see a preemptive strike to try to stop the bleeding before another
  banking crisis occurs.
Companies are responding as you might expect: with a preemptive strike.
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