Definition of prophylactic in English:



  • Intended to prevent disease.

    ‘prophylactic measures’
    • ‘The high prevalence of the virus is reflected in the increasing cost of treatment for those affected and of prophylactic treatment to prevent its spread from mothers to unborn babies.’
    • ‘In other words, there's very slight blockage and they want to take a preventative move, prophylactic heart surgery.’
    • ‘Preventive or prophylactic therapy is helpful in most of the cases and requires a small dose of antibiotic, which is generally given at bed time for prolonged periods of 6 to 12 months.’
    • ‘Hopefully, a successful strike will inspire other groups of workers to undertake similar prophylactic action.’
    • ‘If these measures are unsuccessful, prophylactic treatment may be needed to prevent migraines.’
    • ‘Other studies conclude that prophylactic colonic resection cannot prevent recurrent disease and its complications.’
    • ‘The biggest Y2K doomsayers were the computer consultants who raked in big bucks peddling prophylactic programming.’
    • ‘And I would not advise taking immune-stimulating herbs as a prophylactic measure.’
    • ‘These lesions, being visible during eye examinations, are often considered for prophylactic therapy in an attempt to prevent retinal detachment.’
    • ‘Given that cluster of information, we decided that it was prudent to evaluate all of the employees in that building to see if anyone else had been exposed and to offer protection using prophylactic antibiotics.’
    • ‘It instead violates a prophylactic rule intended to help discipline police and deter coerced confessions.’
    • ‘For the prediction of use of cancer screening and of prophylactic surgery, we intended to use logistic regression modeling, but it was not possible.’
    • ‘Their susceptibility to ten antibiotics used in curative or prophylactic treatment was measured.’
    • ‘Prescribing of drugs for Alzheimer's disease and prophylactic extraction of wisdom teeth showed trends consistent with, but not obviously a consequence of, the guidance.’
    • ‘Better preventive and prophylactic strategies will be needed until newer antibiotics become available and the sanitation and hygiene in developing countries improve.’
    • ‘Although some of these illnesses can be prevented by vaccines or prophylactic measures, proper sanitation and personal cleanliness are vital to disease prevention.’
    • ‘We see a substitution by a ‘truer’ double, but this prophylactic system is also haunted by uncertainty.’
    • ‘Healthcare spending is not promotable as a goal in itself and such spending, except in its preventive or prophylactic aspect, is unrelated to good health, a promotable goal.’
    • ‘Personally, I am less and less persuaded by prophylactic arguments directed at teenage wisdom.’
    • ‘The role of traditional risk factors and prophylactic measures in air travel-related venous thromboembolism needs further investigation.’
    preventive, preventative, precautionary, protective, disease-preventing, pre-emptive, counteractive, preclusive, anticipatory, inhibitory, deterrent
    View synonyms


  • 1A medicine or course of action used to prevent disease.

    ‘I took malaria prophylactics’
    • ‘Women of childbearing age should be treated with prophylactics with caution because of the teratogenicity of most of the drugs used for this purpose.’
    • ‘More than a third of the population suffer from a virulent strain of malaria, so consult your doctor about effective prophylactics.’
    • ‘Apart from hygienic measures, homoeopathic medicines can play a marvellous role as prophylactics to control the outbreaks of such epidemic diseases.’
    • ‘In animal experiments and observational research, vitamin E, a potent antioxidant, looks promising as a prophylactic against cardiovascular disease and cancer, but short term clinical trials have been disappointing.’
    • ‘They are now self-taught experts on prophylactics and parasitic diseases.’
    • ‘This mechanism was not relevant in our study, inasmuch as veterans did not use any chemical warfare prophylactics.’
    • ‘Nitrates and calcium channel blocking drugs can be tried taken sublingually for episodes of pain or orally and regularly as a prophylactic.’
    • ‘Quinine, as well as being used as a prophylactic against malaria, was also considered to be an appetite stimulant and a more general antidote to fever.’
    • ‘It is also highly recommended that people take prophylactics against malaria.’
    • ‘In recent years, strains of the disease have developed a resistance to the prescription drug and, in some pockets, resistance to other prophylactics.’
    • ‘Like a prophylactic, it prevents certain bad things from happening while preserving most of the benefits of interaction.’
    • ‘It does not say that that is on the basis that it is in itself a treatment; it is saying that treatment equals prophylaxis, not that only prophylactics that are used in the course of treatment would be covered.’
    • ‘A favourable climate makes Bankya suitable for year-round spa treatment, as well as for general prophylactics.’
    • ‘Most computer-security products are sold as prophylactics: firewalls prevent network intrusions, PKI prevents impersonation, encryption prevents eavesdropping, etc.’
    • ‘Its use as a prophylactic, especially in cardiac surgery, may increase.’
    • ‘You'll need hepatitis and typhus shots, and you'll need to take malaria prophylactics while there.’
    • ‘It is an anti-oestrogen widely used in the adjuvant therapy of breast cancer and is also used as a prophylactic to prevent the disease in high-risk women.’
    • ‘Under these conditions antibiotics are given as a prophylactic because there is the reasonable expectation disease would occur if no action was taken.’
    • ‘Due to their social importance, the state should pay for prophylactics, diagnostics and treatment.’
    • ‘Fear is never a good reason to take unnecessary medication, and in this case taking the drug as a prophylactic could cause much more harm than good.’
    preventive measure, precaution, safeguard, safety measure
    View synonyms
  • 2North American A condom.

    • ‘The only person in our school who had the courage to own up to possession of prophylactics was one chap who drunkenly admitted possession for his night manipulations on account of his raging eczema.’
    • ‘Clinics gave out another 600 million prophylactics a year.’
    • ‘Probably in part for this reason, it chose preventable medical conditions, rather than male prophylactics, as the proper analogue for unwanted pregnancy.’
    • ‘It was presently crammed with empty beer cans and cigarette packets and possibly a few used prophylactics.’
    • ‘As the primary vehicle for the sale of prophylactics, drugstores brought condoms within the reach of increasing numbers of American males.’
    • ‘Faced with an epidemic of gonorrhea and syphilis, American commanders overseas ignored domestic advice-givers and followed the French practice of providing their men with prophylactics.’
    • ‘In Maryland, it is illegal to sell condoms from vending machines with one exception: prophylactics may be dispensed from a vending machine only in places where alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premises.’
    • ‘Even midwives are being given rewards, such as cellular phones with free air time, for promoting certain brands of prophylactics.’
    • ‘We also had the ‘condom’ salad, with the shrimps artfully curled to look a little like the prophylactics.’
    • ‘The Health Minister launched the condoms a few weeks ago in an attempt to make the mass-produced prophylactics more attractive to the young.’
    • ‘The doctor will also be supplying free prophylactics for the girls to use as they see fit… preferably on customers.’
    • ‘The clinic is not only lacking in free prophylactics, but in every aspect.’
    • ‘The machines will dispense the prophylactics at a price of one yuan apiece, and it is hoped that they will prove an effective tool against the nation's HIV epidemic.’
    condom, sheath
    View synonyms


Late 16th century: from French prophylactique, from Greek prophulaktikos, from pro ‘before’ + phulassein ‘to guard’.