Other forms: preservatives

Anything that's preservative keeps things alive, healthy, or fresh. Some cooks swear by the preservative powers of lemon juice, which can keep fruit tasting fresh and save avocado slices from turning brown.

Use preservative as an adjective — or a noun, for a chemical or other substance that keeps something from dying or breaking down. Food preservatives are sometimes added to make edible things last longer, and to items like medication and cosmetics, so they don't decay before you've finished using them. Preservative followed the verb preserve, which in the fourteenth century meant "to keep something safe."

Definitions of preservative
  1. adjective
    tending or having the power to preserve
    “timbers should be treated with a preservative substance”
    intended or adapted to afford protection of some kind
  2. noun
    a chemical compound that is added to protect against decay or decomposition
    see moresee less
    aromatic substances of vegetable origin used as a preservative
    (Old Testament) one of several sweet-smelling spices used in incense
    type of:
    chemical compound, compound
    (chemistry) a substance formed by chemical union of two or more elements or ingredients in definite proportion by weight
Cite this entry
  • MLA
  • APA
  • Chicago

Copy citation
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘preservative'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
Word Family

Look up preservative for the last time

Close your vocabulary gaps with personalized learning that focuses on teaching the words you need to know.

VocabTrainer -'s Vocabulary Trainer