[proh-fuh-lak-tik, prof-uh-]
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.

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

prophylactically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
prophylactic (ˌprɒfɪˈlæktɪk)
1.  protecting from or preventing disease
2.  protective or preventive
3.  a prophylactic drug or device, esp a condom
[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 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1574, originally of medicines, "that tends to prevent disease," from Gk. prophylaktikos "precautionary," from prophylassein "keep guard before, ward off," from pro- "before" + phylassein, Ionic variant of phylattein "to watch over, to guard," but also "cherish, keep, remain in, preserve." The noun is
first recorded 1642, "a medicine or treatment to prevent disease;" meaning "condom" is from 1943, replacing earlier preventive (1822). Condoms originally were used more to prevent the spread of disease than pregnancy.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

prophylactic pro·phy·lac·tic (prō'fə-lāk'tĭk, prŏf'ə-)

  1. A prophylactic agent, device, or measure, such as a vaccine or drug.

  2. 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.
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Example sentences
Prophylactic antibiotics are those used to prevent diarrhea while traveling.
In geopolitics, as in life, the best medicine is prophylactic.
Researchers want to target this high-risk group with a prophylactic device.
If more patients were aware of the wonderful options now available, they might
  be more willing to undergo prophylactic mastectomy.
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