preventive, preventative
Both words are in use as adjectives meaning ‘serving to prevent’, especially in medicine, and also as nouns denoting a substance or procedure that does this. Preventive is the commoner by a long way (with four times as many occurrences in the OEC), understandably in view of its more comfortable form:

• Preventive medicine may be more effective if problem-based learning programmes are established in place of the traditional methods of education —Physiotherapy, 1990

• The most powerful preventives are on the shelves of your natural foods store —Better Nutrition, AmE 2003 [OEC].

When preventative occurs it is more usually in generalized contexts qualifying words such as action and measure rather than (for example) medicine:

• When we hear talk of a ‘preventative strike’ we must translate that term into what it really means: a surprise attack —V. Mollenkott, AmE 1987.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Preventative — Pre*vent a*tive, n. That which prevents; incorrectly used instead of preventive. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • preventative — index offset, preventive, prophylactic, restrictive Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • preventative — UK US /prɪˈventətɪv/ adjective ► PREVENTIVE(Cf. ↑preventive) …   Financial and business terms

  • preventative — 1650s (adj.), 1774 (n.), from PREVENT (Cf. prevent) + ative. PREVENTIVE (Cf. Preventive) is better formed …   Etymology dictionary

  • preventative — 1. adjective Preventive (in all senses). That part of mental hygiene which has a prophylactic character falls into two classes, group preventative mental hygiene [ hellip;] 2. noun Preventive (in all senses) …   Wiktionary

  • preventative — See preventative, preventive …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • preventative — adj. Preventative is used with these nouns: ↑action, ↑maintenance, ↑measure, ↑medicine, ↑war …   Collocations dictionary

  • preventative — pre|vent|a|tive [prıˈventətıv] adj ↑preventive ▪ preventative measures >preventatively adv …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • preventative — [[t]prɪve̱ntətɪv[/t]] ADJ: ADJ n Preventative means the same as preventive …   English dictionary

  • preventative —    a contraceptive sheath    Preventing, it was hoped, disease and impregnation but not necessarily worn by the former British preventative man, a coastguard …   How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms

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