Simple Definition of tentative
: not done with confidence : uncertain and hesitant
: not definite : still able to be changed
Examples of tentative in a sentence
In the winter, retirees from the Midwest fill the trailer parks. They are known with tentative affection as snowbirds. —William Langewiesche, Atlantic, June 1992
Clearly the President was chastened by the sorrow and resentment of the people to whom he spoke, but his words were somehow tentative and contingent, as if they could be withdrawn on a month's notice. —Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, July 1992
There was a crying need, in the tentative early days of populist toryism, for a voice that could bring the gospel to the lumpen. —Christopher Hitchens, Times Literary Supplement, 30 Nov. 1990
Thus, we have a tentative picture of anatomically modern people arising in Africa over 100,000 years ago, but initially making the same tools as Neanderthals and having no advantage over them. By perhaps 60,000 years ago, some magic twist of behavior had been added to the modern anatomy. —Jared M. Diamond, Discover, May 1989
the baby's first tentative steps
We have tentative plans for the weekend.
A "tentative" Explanation
Tentative is from the Latin tentare (“to attempt”), and its original meaning was “attempted, provisional, experimental.” It is easy to see how this emphasis on trial and error led to the word’s current sense “not fully worked out or developed” (as in a tentative date, tentative plans, a tentative job offer). The “hesitant, uncertain” sense that is also common nowadays (as in “a tentative knock on the door”) extends the idea of an unripe attempt to the uncertain emotional state of the person making the attempt.
Origin and Etymology of tentative
Medieval Latin tentativus, from Latin tentatus, past participle of tentare, temptare to feel, try
First Known Use: 1626
TENTATIVE Defined for Kids
Definition of tentative for Students
1 : not final <tentative plans>
2 : showing caution or hesitation
tentativelyadverb <Harriet walked toward her tentatively, as one would toward a mad dog … — Louise Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy>
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