from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Acting to defend against or prevent something, especially disease; protective.
  • noun A prophylactic agent, device, or measure, such as a vaccine or drug.
  • noun A contraceptive device, especially a condom.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In medicine, preventive; defending from disease: as, prophylactic doses of quinine.
  • noun Anything, as a medicine, which defends against disease; a preventive of disease.
  • noun Same as prophylaxis.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Med.) A medicine which preserves or defends against disease; a preventive.
  • adjective (Med.) Defending or preserving from disease; preventive.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A medicine which preserves or defends against disease; a preventive.
  • noun US Specifically, a prophylactic condom.
  • noun figuratively Any device or mechanism intended to prevent harmful consequences.
  • adjective Serving to prevent or protect against an undesired effect, especially disease.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective warding off
  • adjective capable of preventing conception or impregnation
  • adjective preventing or contributing to the prevention of disease
  • noun remedy that prevents or slows the course of an illness or disease
  • noun contraceptive device consisting of a sheath of thin rubber or latex that is worn over the penis during intercourse


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

French prophylactique, from Greek prophulaktikos, from prophulassein, to take precautions against : pro-, before; see pro-2 + phulassein, to protect (from phulax, guard).


  • Thirdly, if people are getting frequent attacks, there are what we call prophylactic, preventive drugs.

    CNN Transcript Apr 26, 2005

  • And slightly later, I owe my gratitude to Al Lowe for teaching me, by way of Leisure Suit Larry, what a "prophylactic" is at the age of eight or so (yes, precocious, intellectual independence, hallelujah)!

    Archive 2009-06-01

  • Prophylactic The word prophylactic means preventive but condoms are sometimes called prophylactics.

    Chapter 33

  • It preys only upon ignorance, and a very moderate amount of knowledge is an almost certain prophylactic against it.

    The Fenian Movement

  • Long-term prophylactic antibiotic treatment reduces the rate of reinfection during the treatment, but does not alter the patient's basic susceptibility to infections.


  • And I cannot believe that many persons are aware that the word prophylactic, defined as ` preventive of disease, 'may just as properly be used to describe the kind of rubbers your mother made you wear in the rain as the devices the army used to distribute for the protection of promiscuous privates.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol VI No 4

  • Manishin explained that in mega-media deals of this sort, the FCC typically takes a "prophylactic" -- or preemptive -- role, while the Justice Department would wait until an anti-competitive action had occurred.

    Sam Gustin: Comcast and NBC Universal: Antitrust Apocalypse?

  • Preventive mastectomy, also known as prophylactic or risk-reducing mastectomy, can decrease the risk of developing breast cancer by up to 90 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute.

    The Full Feed from

  • The number of women undergoing this surgical procedure, known as prophylactic mastectomy, has "almost doubled in recent times without any evidence of survival benefit and the reasons for this need to be addressed and alternative strategies considered," Dr. Ajay Sahu, a consultant breast surgeon at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, England, said in a news release.

    Medlogs - Recent stories

  • Giving patients Bactrim (co-trimoxazole) is called prophylactic therapy.

    Original Signal - Transmitting Digg


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  • How about this chewing gum marketed in sleek, minimalist boxes that resemble condom packages? Quelle erreur!

    February 8, 2009

  • "Phones now have names like Heat, Chocolate, Rumor, BlackJack, Shine, Tilt, Pearl, and Wing, all of which sound like prophylactics, for what reason I do not know."

    —Patricia Marx, "Tech Stuff," New Yorker, March 10, 2008

    August 28, 2008