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[pri-ven-tiv] /prɪˈvɛn tɪv/
Medicine/Medical. of or noting a drug, vaccine, etc., for preventing disease; prophylactic.
serving to prevent or hinder:
preventive measures.
Medicine/Medical. a drug or other substance for preventing disease.
a preventive agent or measure.
Also, preventative
[pri-ven-tuh-tiv] /prɪˈvɛn tə tɪv/ (Show IPA),
(for defs 2, 4).
Origin of preventive
First recorded in 1630-40; prevent + -ive
Related forms
preventively, adverb
preventiveness, noun
nonpreventive, adjective
nonpreventively, adverb
nonpreventiveness, noun
unpreventative, adjective
unpreventive, adjective
unpreventively, adverb
unpreventiveness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for preventative
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I have known ships to founder with rats on board, so that they cannot be said to be a preventative to such a disaster.

    Dick Cheveley W. H. G. Kingston
  • Pieces of consecrated bread carried home and preserved is a preventative against the bite of a mad dog.

  • That the climate itself is a preventative of consumption is evidenced in the fact that phthisis does not originate here.

  • Some of these springs are resorted to annually by way of preventative; others are visited as occasion requires.

    Discipline Mary Brunton
  • Now these facts seem to show that manual training is almost as good a preventative of criminality as vaccination is of smallpox.

    The Negro in the South Booker T. Washington
British Dictionary definitions for preventative


tending or intended to prevent or hinder
  1. tending to prevent disease; prophylactic
  2. of or relating to the branch of medicine concerned with prolonging life and preventing disease
(in Britain) of, relating to, or belonging to the customs and excise service or the coastguard
something that serves to prevent or hinder
(med) any drug or agent that tends to prevent or protect against disease
another name for contraceptive
Also (except for sense 3) preventative (prɪˈvɛntətɪv)
Derived Forms
preventively, adverb
preventiveness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for preventative

1650s, from prevent + -ative. OED points out that preventive is better-formed. As a noun, from 1774.



1630s, from Latin praevent-, past participle stem of praevenire (see prevent), + -ive. As a noun, from 1630s; in medical use from 1670s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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preventative in Medicine

preventive pre·ven·tive (prĭ-věn'tĭv) or pre·ven·ta·tive (-tə-tĭv)
Preventing or slowing the course of an illness or a disease; prophylactic. n.
A preventive agent or treatment.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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