[ proh-fuh-lak-tik, prof-uh- ]
/ ˌproʊ fəˈlæk tɪk, ˌprɒf ə- /
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See synonyms for: prophylactic / prophylactics on Thesaurus.com


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.



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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Origin of prophylactic

1565–75; <Greek prophylaktikós of guarding, equivalent to prophylak- (base of prophylássein to guard beforehand) + -tikos-tic. See prophylaxis

OTHER WORDS FROM prophylactic

pro·phy·lac·ti·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for prophylactic

British Dictionary definitions for prophylactic

/ (ˌprɒfɪˈlæktɪk) /


protecting from or preventing disease
protective or preventive


a prophylactic drug or device, esp a condom

Word Origin for prophylactic

C16: via French from Greek prophulaktikos, from prophulassein to guard by taking advance measures, from pro- ² + phulax a guard
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

Medical definitions for prophylactic

[ prō′fə-lăktĭk, prŏf′ə- ]


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