Definition of prophylactic in US 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.’
    • ‘For the prediction of use of cancer screening and of prophylactic surgery, we intended to use logistic regression modeling, but it was not possible.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Other studies conclude that prophylactic colonic resection cannot prevent recurrent disease and its complications.’
    • ‘And I would not advise taking immune-stimulating herbs as a prophylactic measure.’
    • ‘Better preventive and prophylactic strategies will be needed until newer antibiotics become available and the sanitation and hygiene in developing countries improve.’
    • ‘It instead violates a prophylactic rule intended to help discipline police and deter coerced confessions.’
    • ‘Their susceptibility to ten antibiotics used in curative or prophylactic treatment was measured.’
    • ‘We see a substitution by a ‘truer’ double, but this prophylactic system is also haunted by uncertainty.’
    • ‘In other words, there's very slight blockage and they want to take a preventative move, prophylactic heart surgery.’
    • ‘If these measures are unsuccessful, prophylactic treatment may be needed to prevent migraines.’
    • ‘The role of traditional risk factors and prophylactic measures in air travel-related venous thromboembolism needs further investigation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Personally, I am less and less persuaded by prophylactic arguments directed at teenage wisdom.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Hopefully, a successful strike will inspire other groups of workers to undertake similar prophylactic action.’
    • ‘Although some of these illnesses can be prevented by vaccines or prophylactic measures, proper sanitation and personal cleanliness are vital to disease prevention.’
    • ‘These lesions, being visible during eye examinations, are often considered for prophylactic therapy in an attempt to prevent retinal detachment.’
    • ‘The biggest Y2K doomsayers were the computer consultants who raked in big bucks peddling prophylactic programming.’
    • ‘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.’
    preventive, preventative, precautionary, protective, disease-preventing, pre-emptive, counteractive, preclusive, anticipatory, inhibitory, deterrent
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  • 1A medicine or course of action used to prevent disease.

    ‘I took malaria prophylactics’
    • ‘Its use as a prophylactic, especially in cardiac surgery, may increase.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is also highly recommended that people take prophylactics against malaria.’
    • ‘More than a third of the population suffer from a virulent strain of malaria, so consult your doctor about effective prophylactics.’
    • ‘In recent years, strains of the disease have developed a resistance to the prescription drug and, in some pockets, resistance to other prophylactics.’
    • ‘Most computer-security products are sold as prophylactics: firewalls prevent network intrusions, PKI prevents impersonation, encryption prevents eavesdropping, etc.’
    • ‘Due to their social importance, the state should pay for prophylactics, diagnostics and treatment.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Under these conditions antibiotics are given as a prophylactic because there is the reasonable expectation disease would occur if no action was taken.’
    • ‘A favourable climate makes Bankya suitable for year-round spa treatment, as well as for general prophylactics.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This mechanism was not relevant in our study, inasmuch as veterans did not use any chemical warfare prophylactics.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Women of childbearing age should be treated with prophylactics with caution because of the teratogenicity of most of the drugs used for this purpose.’
    • ‘Apart from hygienic measures, homoeopathic medicines can play a marvellous role as prophylactics to control the outbreaks of such epidemic diseases.’
    • ‘They are now self-taught experts on prophylactics and parasitic diseases.’
    • ‘You'll need hepatitis and typhus shots, and you'll need to take malaria prophylactics while there.’
    • ‘Nitrates and calcium channel blocking drugs can be tried taken sublingually for episodes of pain or orally and regularly as a prophylactic.’
    • ‘Like a prophylactic, it prevents certain bad things from happening while preserving most of the benefits of interaction.’
    • ‘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
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    1. 1.1North American A condom.
      • ‘Even midwives are being given rewards, such as cellular phones with free air time, for promoting certain brands of prophylactics.’
      • ‘The doctor will also be supplying free prophylactics for the girls to use as they see fit… preferably on customers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Clinics gave out another 600 million prophylactics a year.’
      • ‘As the primary vehicle for the sale of prophylactics, drugstores brought condoms within the reach of increasing numbers of American males.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘It was presently crammed with empty beer cans and cigarette packets and possibly a few used prophylactics.’
      • ‘The clinic is not only lacking in free prophylactics, but in every aspect.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Probably in part for this reason, it chose preventable medical conditions, rather than male prophylactics, as the proper analogue for unwanted pregnancy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We also had the ‘condom’ salad, with the shrimps artfully curled to look a little like the prophylactics.’
      condom, sheath
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Late 16th century: from French prophylactique, from Greek prophulaktikos, from pro ‘before’ + phulassein ‘to guard’.