Preventive vs Preventative
English is a language that contains many pairs of words that sound similar but have very different meanings. However, there are also pairs that sound similar and have similar meanings too. One such a pair of words is preventive and preventative where the words have similar meanings though there are also differences that prevent them from being synonyms. This does not stop people from using the words preventive and preventative interchangeably. Let us take a closer look.
In the medical world, especially the world of medicine, preventive is a word that has great significance and use. The drugs that are used to prevent the onset of a disease or play a role in the delay of a disease are commonly referred to as preventive drugs. In industries, preventive maintenance is a periodic checkup or maintenance procedure that is carried out at regular intervals to ensure that machines and tools keep on working smoothly, and there is no stoppage of work on account of faults or breakages that can be avoided. Thus, preventive is a word that describes a thing that is helpful in preventing in the occurrence of an event that is undesirable.
It is a fact, and dictionaries around the world corroborate the fact, that preventive is the adjective that has traditionally been used for anything that prevents an undesirable event such as disease or breakdown. However, of late, preventative is the word that has increasingly emerged as an alternative for preventive. In fact, the use of preventative has increased so much that about a third of the users are freely using it in place of preventive. Preventative is also being seen in the content of many websites. There are also cases where the two words have been used in the same sentence with preventive being used as an adjective while preventative being used as a noun.
If we go by logic, representative comes from represent, and so the choice should be preventative as it comes from prevent, and not preventive. However, logic has only limited place in English language.
What is the difference between Preventive and Preventative?
• Preventive and preventative have similar meaning and both refer to something that is used to prevent the onset of something that is undesirable.
• However, preventive is more common of the two words.
• Preventive is used mostly as an adjective, and when the word required is a noun, preventative is preferred.
• The suffix +ive, as well as +ative, convey the same meaning of having a tendency to prevent, but +ative is less commonly used than +ive.