Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search



From Latin, from Ancient Greek πρό (pro, “before”) + φυλάξις (phylaxis, “a watching, guarding”)


prophylactic (plural prophylactics)

  1. A medicine which preserves or defends against disease; a preventive.
  2. (US) Specifically, a prophylactic condom.
    • 1977, Human Life Center, International Review of Natural Family Planning, Human Life Center, St. John's University (1977), p. 2,
      It is not clear whether such education is to be directed to homosexuals (for whom prophylactics are not a contraceptive) or to heterosexuals as well (for whom prophylactics are a contraceptive).
    • 1994, Mary Louise Roberts, Civilization Without Sexes: reconstructing gender in postwar France, 1917-1927, University of Chicago Press (1994), p. 96,
      Given the widespread use of coitus interruptus and male prophylactics as contraceptive practices in France […]
    • 2000, Peter Parnell and John Irving, The Cider House Rules: Here in St. Cloud's, Dramatists Play Service, Inc. (2000), p. 46,
      Some men put the prophylactic on just the tip of the penis: this is a mistake, because the prophylactic will come off.
  3. (figuratively) Any device or mechanism intended to prevent harmful consequences.
    • The securities laws are a prophylactic against stock fraud.


prophylactic (comparative more prophylactic, superlative most prophylactic)

  1. Serving to prevent or protect against an undesired effect, especially disease.


Related terms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]