- defending or protecting from disease or infection, as a drug.
- preventive or protective.
- Medicine/Medical. a prophylactic medicine or measure.
- a preventive.
- a device, usually a rubber sheath, used to prevent conception or venereal infection; condom.
Origin of prophylactic
- protecting from or preventing disease
- protective or preventive
- a prophylactic drug or device, esp a condom
Word Origin and History for prophylactically
1570s, originally of medicines, "that tends to prevent disease," from Middle French prophylactique (16c.) and directly as a Latinized borrowing of Greek prophylaktikos "precautionary," from prophylassein "keep guard before, ward off, be on one's guard," from pro- "before" (see pro-) + phylassein, Ionic variant of phylattein "to watch over, to guard," but also "cherish, keep, remain in, preserve" (see phylactery).
The noun is first recorded 1640s, "a medicine or treatment to prevent disease;" meaning "condom" is from 1943, replacing earlier preventive (1822), preventative (1901). Condoms originally were used more to thwart contagious disease than to prevent pregnancy.
- A prophylactic agent, device, or measure, such as a vaccine or drug.
- A contraceptive device, especially a condom.
- Acting to defend against or prevent something, especially disease; protective.