something that preserves or tends to preserve.
a chemical substance used to preserve foods or other organic materials from decomposition or fermentation.


tending to preserve.

Nearby words

  1. presently,
  2. presentment,
  3. presents,
  4. preservation,
  5. preservationist,
  6. preserve,
  7. preserving,
  8. preset,
  9. preset board,
  10. preshave

Origin of preservative

1350–1400; Middle English (adj. and noun) < Middle French preservatif (adj.) < Medieval Latin praeservātīvus. See preserve, -ative

Related formsnon·pre·serv·a·tive, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for preservative

British Dictionary definitions for preservative



something that preserves or tends to preserve, esp a chemical added to foods to inhibit decomposition


tending or intended to preserve
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 preservative



late 14c., from Old French preservatif and directly from Medieval Latin praeservativus, from stem of praeservare (see preserve (v.)). The noun is from early 15c., "a preservative medication;" sense of "chemical added to foods to keep them from rotting" is from 1875.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for preservative




A substance added to food products or to organic solutions to prevent decomposition due to chemical change or bacterial action.

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