verb (used with object), pre·served, pre·serv·ing.

verb (used without object), pre·served, pre·serv·ing.

to preserve fruit, vegetables, etc.; make preserves.
to maintain a preserve for game or fish, especially for sport.


Origin of preserve

1325–75; Middle English preserven < Medieval Latin praeservāre to guard (Late Latin: to observe), equivalent to Latin prae- pre- + servāre to watch over, keep, preserve, observe
Related formspre·serv·a·ble, adjectivepre·serv·a·bil·i·ty, nounpres·er·va·tion [prez-er-vey-shuhn] /ˌprɛz ərˈveɪ ʃən/, nounpre·serv·er, nounnon·pre·serv·a·ble, adjectivenon·pres·er·va·tion, nounsem·i·pre·served, adjectiveun·pre·serv·a·ble, adjectiveun·pre·served, adjective

Synonyms for preserve

Synonym study

2. See defend.

Antonyms for preserve Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for preservation

Contemporary Examples of preservation

Historical Examples of preservation

  • They are the preservation of the rights of the several States and the integrity of the Union.

  • And they have the political power still, if they only had the sense to use it for their preservation.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • The preservation of 'free soil for free men,' will alone be satisfactory.

  • The 'suprema lex' was the preservation of the family, and the interest of the State.

  • Tradition told them of many destructions of mankind and of the preservation of a remnant.

British Dictionary definitions for preservation


verb (mainly tr)

to keep safe from danger or harm; protect
to protect from decay or dissolution; maintainto preserve old buildings
to maintain possession of; keep upto preserve a façade of indifference
to prevent from decomposition or chemical change
to prepare (food), as by freezing, drying, or salting, so that it will resist decomposition
to make preserves of (fruit, etc)
to rear and protect (game) in restricted places for hunting or fishing
(intr) to maintain protection and favourable conditions for game in preserves


something that preserves or is preserved
a special area or domainarchaeology is the preserve of specialists
(usually plural) fruit, etc, prepared by cooking with sugar
areas where game is reared for private hunting or fishing
Derived Formspreservable, adjectivepreservability, nounpreservably, adverbpreservation (ˌprɛzəˈveɪʃən), nounpreserver, noun

Word Origin for preserve

C14: via Old French, from Late Latin praeservāre literally: to keep safe in advance, from Latin prae- before + servāre to keep safe
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

Word Origin and History for preservation

early 15c., preservacioun "protection from disease," from Old French preservacion (13c.), from Medieval Latin preservationem (nominative preservatio), noun of action from past participle stem of preservare (see preserve (v.)).



late 14c., "keep safe," from Anglo-French preservare, Old French preserver, from Medieval Latin preservare "keep, preserve," from Late Latin praeservare "guard beforehand," from Latin prae "before" (see pre-) + servare "to keep safe" (see observe). As a treatment of fruit, etc., 1570s; of organic bodies from 1610s. Related: Preserved; preserving.



"fruit preserved with sugar," c.1600, from preserve (v.). Earlier it meant "a preservative" (1550s). Sense of "protected place for animals or plants" (a sense more properly belonging to conserve) is from 1807.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper