Prophylactic might sound like a prehistoric period when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but it actually describes something that can prevent something negative, such as disease. Prophylactic surgery to remove a mole can prevent skin cancer.

If you want to avoid getting sick, you can get a vaccine, take medicine, or have surgery — all of which are considered prophylactic measures. Delve deeper into the history of this four-syllable word and you'll find the Greek term prophulaktikos, which means to "guard before." Prophylactic can also describe a contraceptive used to prevent pregnancy. This use of the word started because condoms, which are prophylactics, were originally designed to prevent disease, not pregnancy.

Definitions of prophylactic
  1. adjective
    preventing or contributing to the prevention of disease
    “vaccines are prophylactic
    “a prophylactic drug”
    synonyms: preventative, preventive
    conducive to good health of body or mind
  2. adjective
    capable of preventing conception or impregnation
    synonyms: antifertility, contraceptive
    intended or adapted to afford protection of some kind
  3. adjective
    warding off
    synonyms: cautionary
    intended or adapted to afford protection of some kind
  4. noun
    remedy that prevents or slows the course of an illness or disease
    synonyms: preventative, preventive
    see moresee less
    type of:
    curative, cure, remedy, therapeutic
    a medicine or therapy that cures disease or relieve pain
  5. noun
    contraceptive device consisting of a sheath of thin rubber or latex that is worn over the penis during intercourse
Word Family

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