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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. 2014.
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Examples for preservative
  • Many of the samples fixed in celloidin also float in a liquid preservative that is probably formaldehyde or alcohol.
  • Salt not only enhances taste but also acts as a preservative and adds texture.
  • Hops was added as a preservative when it was transported away from the brewing origin.
  • Let deck dry for two days before applying a clear wood preservative with mildewcides and ultraviolet-light inhibitors.
  • And sulfur has been used as a wine preservative since antiquity.
  • For the first, the best preservative to keep the mind in health is the faithful admonition of a friend.
  • Here it acts as a preservative and stabilizer, preventing outside impurities from spoiling the contents.
  • Arsenic, a preservative, killed bacteria that would cause decay.
  • Sea salt is a mineral that has been used as a flavoring and preservative since ancient times.
  • The volcano's intense heat proved to be a great 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
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preservative 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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