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[pri-ven-tiv] /prɪˈvɛn tɪv/
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.
Also, preventative
[pri-ven-tuh-tiv] /prɪˈvɛn tə tɪv/ (Show IPA),
(for defs 2, 4).
Origin of preventive
1630-40; prevent + -ive
Related forms
preventively, adverb
preventiveness, noun
nonpreventive, adjective
nonpreventively, adverb
nonpreventiveness, noun
unpreventative, adjective
unpreventive, adjective
unpreventively, adverb
unpreventiveness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for preventative
  • It's about finding the right combination of preventative medications and working with a good headache specialist.
  • Yet few governments are willing to spend even fractions of that on preventative maintenance.
  • The researchers caution that red wine cannot be considered a cancer preventative.
  • Their work is an important part of preventative health care.
  • We have been to the moon and split the atom, but a true cure or foolproof preventative measure for the hangover remains elusive.
  • It's poised to only get worse unless swift preventative measures and implemented now.
  • Yet he is subject to preventative detention, as a danger to the community, based on this conviction.
  • The extract was also found to have a preventative effect against the common cold.
  • Sporadic treatment at retail clinics could disrupt continuity of treatment and preventative care, some medical groups worry.
  • It has nothing to do with actually facing the cost and preventative care issues.
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 Forms
preventively, adverb
preventiveness, 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
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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
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preventative in Medicine

preventive pre·ven·tive (prĭ-věn'tĭv) or pre·ven·ta·tive (-tə-tĭv)
Preventing or slowing the course of an illness or a disease; prophylactic. n.
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.
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