See more synonyms for preventive on
  1. Medicine/Medical. of or noting a drug, vaccine, etc., for preventing disease; prophylactic.
  2. serving to prevent or hinder: preventive measures.
  1. Medicine/Medical. a drug or other substance for preventing disease.
  2. a preventive agent or measure.
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 formspre·ven·tive·ly, adverbpre·ven·tive·ness, nounnon·pre·ven·tive, adjectivenon·pre·ven·tive·ly, adverbnon·pre·ven·tive·ness, nounun·pre·vent·a·tive, adjectiveun·pre·ven·tive, adjectiveun·pre·ven·tive·ly, adverbun·pre·ven·tive·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for preventative

protection, precaution, remedy, preventive

Examples from the Web for preventative

Contemporary Examples of preventative

Historical Examples of preventative

British Dictionary definitions for preventative


  1. tending or intended to prevent or hinder
  2. med
    1. tending to prevent disease; prophylactic
    2. of or relating to the branch of medicine concerned with prolonging life and preventing disease
  3. (in Britain) of, relating to, or belonging to the customs and excise service or the coastguard
  1. something that serves to prevent or hinder
  2. med any drug or agent that tends to prevent or protect against disease
  3. 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

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

preventative in Medicine


  1. Preventing or slowing the course of an illness or disease; prophylactic.
  1. 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.