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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

Examples of preventative in a Sentence

Adjective the department in charge of taking preventative measures against international terrorism
Recent Examples on the Web
Use preventative measures: Always put coasters under glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices, and place hot dishes on trivets. Caitlin Sole, Better Homes & Gardens, 10 July 2024 Both Chaparro and Arora also suggest taking preventative measures, like managing any underlying health conditions, scheduling regular follow-ups with your provider, keeping an eye out for any cardiac symptoms, and maintaining your overall health. Alyssa Hui, Verywell Health, 9 July 2024
For years, the United States has been developing preventatives and treatments for Ebola, which would both provide defense if Ebola were used in warfare and reduce the spread of an outbreak of the disease. Jessica Hatcher, Foreign Affairs, 28 Apr. 2014 Michelle Oakley, star of Dr. Oakley Yukon Vet Watch for ticks Prioritize tick preventatives before hitting the trails or camping with your pet. Kelli Bender, Peoplemag, 25 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for preventative 

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 19 Jul. 2024.

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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