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.

Nearby words

  1. prevent defense,
  2. preventable,
  3. preventative,
  4. preventer,
  5. prevention,
  6. preventive dentistry,
  7. preventive detention,
  8. preventive law,
  9. preventive medicine,
  10. preventive treatment

Also pre·vent·a·tive [pri-ven-tuh-tiv] /prɪˈvɛn tə tɪv/ (for defs 2, 4).

Origin of preventive

First recorded in 1630–40; prevent + -ive

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for preventative

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 Formspreventively, adverbpreventiveness, 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

Word Origin and History for preventative
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for preventative




Preventing or slowing the course of an illness or disease; prophylactic.


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.