Preventive vs. Preventative: who's kidding whom?

Aside from spelling, is there any difference between these two?

Isn’t “preventive” preferred?

You got it, simply alternate forms of the word. My dictionary has an entry for “preventive,” at the end of which it says “also preventative” (which is not listed separately).

Doctors insist that there is a difference, one being a noun and the other an adjective (I forgot which is which; I think preventative is the noun).

Years ago I submitted to the word maven James J. Kilpatrick (who pens a weely column on English) that preventative should be ordered abolished from the English language. He asked me to submit some examples where that dastardly “word” was used. I obliged. Now, quite recently, in reply to a request from someone else, he wrote a column ordering the abolition of that word.

Preventative is an abomination.

Doctors do NOT inisist there is a difference. Preventative is not listed, for example, in Dorland’s Medical Dictionary. It’s a dubious word, in my view, since I don’t think preventative IS a real noun.


“Who’s” is a contraction meaning “who is.”

“Whom” is the objective form of “who.”

Google speaks:

Preventive: 1,950,000 hits

Preventative: 675,000 hits

I was feeling quite satisfied with this until I looked at the first hit under Preventative:

The Institute for Preventative Sports Medicine. :smack:

It seems like I hear “preventative” more in certain situations. Like “Preventative measures”.

I guess I’ll stop using it :slight_smile:

Hmm. says that the word “preventative” has its origin circa as 1666. This explains a lot. The first time the word was uttered, god became furious and shot down bolt of lightning, which sparked the great fire of London.

So maybe the word really should be abolished.