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


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plural preventatives
: 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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
During a May 8 City Council committee meeting, chief information officer Bill Zielinski said the city put in preventative measures that helped limit the effect of the ransomware attack, but city officials haven’t elaborated on what those were. Everton Bailey Jr., Dallas News, 1 June 2023 But the instructions say the vaccine is shed only through feces, so good hygiene during and after changing diapers is an adequate preventative measure for people who are not immunocompromised. Nate Trela, USA TODAY, 31 May 2023 If migraines are frequent or severe, preventative medicines may help.7 Natural treatments include vitamin B12 (riboflavin), magnesium, coenzyme Q10, and a medicinal plant called butterbur. Maggie O'neill, Health, 9 May 2023 Has a 'Very Moving' Experience at French Cancer Research Center Back in 2019, Jolie opened up in an emotional essay for Time about her preventative procedures after the tragedy of losing her mother to cancer. Vanessa Etienne, Peoplemag, 8 May 2023 This enables your team to take preventative measures that can minimize potential risks. Justin Main, Forbes, 5 May 2023 Following the death of Chadwick Boseman from colon cancer at age 43, May hopes more people feel educated about the need for preventative screening. Byalexa Mikhail, Fortune Well, 2 May 2023 For now, both the city and Schrage’s fire department are focused on keeping things under control — implementing as many preventative measures as possible. Mark Thiessen, Chicago Tribune, 30 Apr. 2023 Tame skin and manage breakouts by adopting a go-to acne skincare routine, consisting of preventative face washes, serums, toners and moisturizers. Adele Jackson-gibson,, 14 Apr. 2023
Image courtesy Chewy Bravecto Chewable Tablets for Dogs is a monthly flea and tick preventative for dogs that kills pests within two hours and ticks within 12 hours. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 19 Oct. 2022 The condition can be permanent, but symptoms can be treated and managed with preventative and avoidance measures.23 Symptoms Most people with AGS experience an allergic reaction anywhere between two to six hours after eating red meat. Amanda Macmillan, Health, 21 Apr. 2023 An inexpensive, over-the-counter drug often used as a treatment against parasitic worms is in high demand in Perú, Bolivia, Guatemala and other parts of Latin America as an unproven preventative for COVID-19, reports freelance science journalist Emiliano Rodríguez Mega for Nature (10/20/20). Robin Lloyd, Scientific American, 30 Oct. 2020 Given the range of different interventions now available to prevent cardiovascular disease such as statins, blood pressure medication and help quitting smoking and losing weight, the findings of the research called in question the use of aspirin as a preventative. Katie Hunt, CNN, 3 June 2020 Or would it be distributed as a preventative? Veronique Greenwood, Discover Magazine, 20 Jan. 2012 Like Regeneron, Eli Lilly & Co. and AbCellera Biologics Inc. are developing an antibody therapy, not only as a treatment for the virus but also as a preventative. Cristin Flanagan,, 5 Oct. 2020 Though it is touted as a potential preventative and/or cure for dementia, there is no conclusive evidence to these ends, as the NIH notes. Jes Skolnik, Allure, 23 Sep. 2021 Each animal receives a first round of vaccinations, a flea/tick preventative, dewormer and a microchip registered to the new adopter. Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 4 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'preventative.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1655, in the meaning defined above


1651, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of preventative was in 1651

Dictionary Entries Near preventative

Cite this Entry

“Preventative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

Medical Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on preventative

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