1 of 2


pre·​ven·​tive pri-ˈven-tiv How to pronounce preventive (audio)
: devoted to or concerned with prevention : precautionary
preventive steps against soil erosion
: such as
: designed or serving to prevent the occurrence of disease
preventive medical care
: undertaken to forestall anticipated hostile action
a preventive coup
preventively adverb
preventiveness noun


2 of 2


: something that prevents
especially : something used to prevent disease

Example Sentences

Adjective Farmers are covering their crops as a preventive measure against frost. We'll take whatever preventive action is necessary. Noun if people took the simple preventive of frequently washing their hands, the spread of germs could be greatly reduced
Recent Examples on the Web
As part of the Affordable Care Act, cost sharing was eliminated for preventive and other services identified by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force as being highly effective, such as colonoscopies, and prescription contraceptives. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, STAT, 23 May 2023 The new findings underscore the critical role of preventive measures in promoting healthy brain development in children. Cordula Hölig, Scientific American, 12 May 2023 The new study comes as male fertility has plummeted worldwide and conversations about preventive medical care, like focusing on nutrition and exercise, have become more prominent in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which highlighted comorbidities like obesity. Breccan F. Thies, Washington Examiner, 10 May 2023 The group issues influential guidelines on preventive health, and its recommendations usually are widely adopted in the United States. Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, 9 May 2023 There may be benefit in preventive measures to minimize risks, Ehrlich said, which can include maintaining a healthy diet and incorporating physical activity. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, 8 May 2023 After decades of failure, new insights into the shape of a key RSV protein allowed scientists to create successful vaccines and a better preventive treatment. Carolyn Y. Johnson, Anchorage Daily News, 4 May 2023 But rulings in favor of restrictions may dissuade companies from developing new products in areas such as reproductive and preventive health, which would be a loss to both public health and potential (if small) future revenue streams of the drug industry. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, 21 Apr. 2023 Some states, like Florida, are focused on expanding preventive care awareness. Breccan F. Thies, Washington Examiner, 10 May 2023
In the end, however, experts say there is only one true preventive — or cure — for a hangover: Don’t drink. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, 30 Dec. 2022 Once experts predict a potential outbreak, who funds the necessary preventive and containment measures? Mallory Locklear, Discover Magazine, 20 Aug. 2018 And yet little is being done in response to the danger, let alone as a preventive to keep the situation from going further off the rails. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 21 July 2022 When given as a preventive, it is meant as a two-dose vaccine given four weeks apart, which research suggests can reduce the risk of infection by about 85%. Benjamin Ryan, NBC News, 14 July 2022 Not drinking irresponsibly is a more effective preventive for hangovers. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 12 July 2022 Any dog infected with heartworm will also be prescribed a heartworm preventive. Claire Rafford, The Indianapolis Star, 21 June 2022 And women—particularly young Black women—are less likely to receive treatment, either preventive or once a heart attack has already occurred. Jyoti Madhusoodanan, Scientific American, 19 May 2022 But there is concern for those who remain unvaccinated and have leaned on Regeneron or other similar cocktails as a coronavirus preventive or treatment if they are infected. Washington Post, 16 Dec. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'preventive.' 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


circa 1626, in the meaning defined above


circa 1639, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of preventive was circa 1626

Dictionary Entries Near preventive

Cite this Entry

“Preventive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
pre·​ven·​tive pri-ˈvent-iv How to pronounce preventive (audio)
: something that prevents
especially : something used to prevent disease


2 of 2 adjective
: concerned with or used for prevention
preventive measures
preventive medicine

Medical Definition


1 of 2 noun
pre·​ven·​tive -ˈvent-iv How to pronounce preventive (audio)
: something (as a drug) used to prevent disease


2 of 2 adjective
: devoted to or concerned with the prevention of disease
preventive drug therapy
preventive psychiatry

More from Merriam-Webster on preventive

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