peremptory » pre-emptory

Chiefly in:   pre-emptory challenge

Variant(s):  preemptory

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • “The attorney might make a challenge for cause , or exercise a pre-emptory challenge.” (link)
  • “Neither party shall be entitled to pre-emptory challenge. as to any of said six jurors, but if any of said six jurors are found to be disqualified by …” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Alison Murie (American Dialect Society mailing list, 17 June 2005)

Murie: “On NPR this evening, reporting on a guilty verdict just returned, several references to “pre-emptory challenges” exercised in the jury selection.”

Paul Brians (Common Errors in English) cautions:

“Peremptory” (meaning “imperative” ) is often misspelled and mispronounced “preemptory” through confusion caused by the influence of the verb “preempt,” whose adjectival form is actually “preemptive.” “Preemptory” exists only as an obscure legal term you’re not likely to have use for.

Ca. 170 Google webhits on “pre-emptory challenge”, vs. ca. 26,400 for “peremptory challenge” (some from law dictionaries).

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/06/18 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by johnsmith , 2006/12/19 at 3:58 am

    ca should be cf

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