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[pri-zur-vuh-tiv] /prɪˈzɜr və tɪv/
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.
1350-1400; Middle English (adj. and noun) < Middle French preservatif (adj.) < Medieval Latin praeservātīvus. See preserve, -ative
Related forms
nonpreservative, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for preservatives
  • He is the depressed visitor of the sick, who must needs beware, and be provided with preservatives.
  • Because the leg bone was deliberately broken in the field, no preservatives were added.
  • For example the falsified claim that vaccine preservatives cause autism.
  • If you must get syrupy, choose ones with no preservatives or artificial flavors.
  • Chemical preservatives raise health concerns of their own, and at any rate they are not applicable to many foods.
  • Grown in fresh human hosts with no pesticides or preservatives.
  • These potential endocrine disrupters are widely used as preservatives.
  • Certain foods and preservatives in foods may trigger migraines in some people.
  • Almost all sodas are water and high-fructose corn syrup, and they often have artificial flavors, coloring and preservatives.
  • Formaldehyde is released by popular preservatives hidden in personal care products.
British Dictionary definitions for preservatives


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
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Word Origin and History for preservatives



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
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preservatives in Medicine

preservative pre·ser·va·tive (prĭ-zûr'və-tĭv)
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.
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