A preventive measure. The word comes from the Greek for "an advance guard," an apt term for a measure taken to fend off a disease or another unwanted consequence. A prophylactic is a medication or a treatment designed and used to prevent a disease from occurring. For example, prophylactic antibiotics may be used after a bout of rheumatic fever to prevent the subsequent development of Sydenham’s chorea. A prophylactic is also a drug or device, particularly a condom, for preventing pregnancy.
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1. Preventing disease; relating to prophylaxis. SYN: preventive. 2. An agent that acts to prevent a disease. [G. prophylaktikos; see prophylaxis]

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pro·phy·lac·tic .prō-fə-'lak-tikalso .präf-ə- adj
1) guarding from or preventing the spread or occurrence of disease or infection <\prophylactic therapy>
2) tending to prevent or ward off: PREVENTIVE
pro·phy·lac·ti·cal·ly -ti-k(ə-)lē adv
prophylactic n something (as a medicinal preparation) that is prophylactic esp a device and esp. a condom for preventing venereal infection or conception

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an agent that prevents the development of a condition or disease. An example is glyceryl trinitrate, which is used to prevent attacks of angina.

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pro·phy·lac·tic (pro″fə-lakґtik) [Gr. prophylaktikos] 1. tending to ward off or prevent something, particularly disease. 2. pertaining to prophylaxis. 3. an agent that tends to ward off disease. 4. a device for preventing sexually transmitted disease and/or conception, particularly a condom.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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  • prophylactic — pro·phy·lac·tic /ˌprō fə lak tik, ˌprä / adj: designed or tending to prevent harm or wrong a prophylactic rule against profiting from inside information Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • prophylactic — [prō΄fə lak′tik] adj. [Gr prophylaktikos < prophylassein, to be on guard < pro , before (see PRO 1) + phylassein, to guard < phylax, guard] preventive or protective; esp., preventing or guarding against disease n. 1. a prophylactic… …   English World dictionary

  • Prophylactic — Proph y*lac tic, n. [Cf. F. prophylactique.] (Med.) A medicine which preserves or defends against disease; a preventive. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Prophylactic — Proph y*lac tic, Prophylactical Proph y*lac tic*al, a. [Gr. ?, fr. ? to guard against; ? before + ? to guard: cf. F. prophylactique.] (Med.) Defending or preserving from disease; preventive. Coxe. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • prophylactic — (adj.) 1570s, originally of medicines, that tends to prevent disease, from Gk. prophylaktikos precautionary, from prophylassein keep guard before, ward off, from pro before (see PRO (Cf. pro )) + phylassein, Ionic variant of phylattein to watch… …   Etymology dictionary

  • prophylactic — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ intended to prevent disease. ► NOUN 1) a preventative medicine or course of action. 2) chiefly N. Amer. a condom. ORIGIN Greek prophulaktikos, from phulassein to guard …   English terms dictionary

  • prophylactic — [[t]prɒ̱fɪlæ̱ktɪk[/t]] prophylactics 1) ADJ: usu ADJ n Prophylactic means concerned with preventing disease. [MEDICAL] Vaccination and other prophylactic measures can be carried out. Syn: preventive 2) N COUNT A prophylactic is a substance or… …   English dictionary

  • prophylactic — 1. adjective prophylactic measures Syn: preventive, preventative, precautionary, protective, inhibitory 2. noun 1) a prophylactic against malaria Syn: preventive measure, precaution, safeguard, safety measure; preventive medicine 2) …   Thesaurus of popular words

  • prophylactic — pro|phy|lac|tic1 [ˌprɔfıˈlæktık US ˌpra: ] adj technical [Date: 1500 1600; : Greek; Origin: prophylaktikos, from prophylassein to guard before , from phylax guard ] intended to prevent disease ▪ prophylactic antibiotics prophylactic 2… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • prophylactic — I UK [ˌprɒfəˈlæktɪk] / US [ˌprɑfəˈlæktɪk] adjective medical intended to prevent disease or infection II UK [ˌprɒfəˈlæktɪk] / US [ˌprɑfəˈlæktɪk] noun [countable] Word forms prophylactic : singular prophylactic plural prophylactics 1) medical a… …   English dictionary

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