pre·​ven·​ta·​tive | \ pri-ˈven-tə-tiv How to pronounce preventative (audio) \

Definition of preventative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: devoted to or concerned with preventing something from happening : preventive entry 1 The best preventative medicine that you can give to your plants is to mulch them.— Ann Whynman Los Angeles County promised to revamp its system, gradually reducing the use of expensive inpatient hospitals through more preventative care at outpatient clinics.— Jonathan Cohn


plural preventatives

Definition of preventative (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that serves to prevent something from occurring : preventive entry 2 We've got the live vaccinia virus vaccine as a preventative for smallpox …— D. A. Henderson et al. Green onions are a mosquito preventative.— Garrison Keillor

Synonyms for preventative

Synonyms: Adjective

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Examples of preventative in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Last year, her committee emphasized the public-health benefits of vaccination, masking and other preventative measures. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, 11 Jan. 2022 Utah House Majority Leader Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, called on Salt Lake County officials to reconsider their mask mandate, recommending that officials focus on vaccines and other preventative measures. Kim Bojórquez, The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Jan. 2022 And people need to be prepared for a heightened risk of infection during travel by taking preventative measures, according to Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the school of tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Helen Regan, CNN, 27 Dec. 2021 Effective immediately, all clubs will implement preventative measures that have proven effective: masking regardless of vaccination status, remote or outdoor meetings, eliminating in-person meals, and no outside visitors while on team travel. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, 17 Dec. 2021 This advice is largely the extent of preventative medicine today, at a time when 70% of deaths in the U.S. are caused by chronic diseases and 80% of them avoidable through lifestyle changes. Jeffrey Lee, Forbes, 15 Sep. 2021 Ultimately, Zhang hopes that EMMA can create consistent, low-cost massage treatments that can be part of the growing trend of preventative medicine. Rebecca Cairns, CNN, 1 Sep. 2021 After finishing treatment, Ediana was placed on a preventative medicine. Juhi Varma, Houston Chronicle, 14 Oct. 2020 Because flu shots are a form of preventative medicine, insurance companies and federal health insurance in the US should cover them free of charge. Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz, 12 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'preventative.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of preventative


1655, in the meaning defined above


1651, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for preventative

Time Traveler

The first known use of preventative was in 1651

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Dictionary Entries Near preventative



prevent defense

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Statistics for preventative

Last Updated

14 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Preventative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of preventative


adjective or noun
pre·​ven·​ta·​tive | \ pri-ˈvent-ət-iv How to pronounce preventative (audio) \

Medical Definition of preventative

More from Merriam-Webster on preventative

Nglish: Translation of preventative for Spanish Speakers


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