Friday, July 19, 2013

Struggling with Words, Part 5: Preventive or Preventative?

[This is the fifth in a series of posts on commonly confused words.]

When suggesting to writers that they use preventive rather than preventative, some will argue with me by saying that if preventative is in the dictionary, then it's a word. 

The argument should not be over whether a word is in the dictionary. Starting with vulgarities, we wouldn't use many words appearing in the dictionary. So the argument should be whether a word is acceptable in your company or industry. I just found preventative in Oxford, Merriam-Webster, and, but they all preferred preventive. The simpler word will nearly always be the better choice.