incidental

1 of 2

adjective

in·​ci·​den·​tal ˌin(t)-sə-ˈden-tᵊl How to pronounce incidental (audio)
1
a
: being likely to ensue as a chance or minor consequence
social obligations incidental to the job
2
: occurring merely by chance or without intention or calculation

incidental

2 of 2

noun

1
incidentals plural : minor items (as of expense) that are not particularized
2
: something that is incidental

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Incidental vs. Accidental

One sense of incidental is defined as "occurring merely by chance or without intention or calculation ," and one of the most common meanings of accidental in modern use is "occurring unexpectedly or by chance," so it is not surprising that the two words are sometimes confused. However, in almost all settings in which they will be found today, these words have distinct meanings. Incidental is most often used in the sense "being likely to ensue as a chance or minor consequence," or "minor" (as in "there were some incidental expenses that I paid myself").

Examples of incidental in a Sentence

Adjective You may incur some incidental expenses on the trip. an incidental part of the job He writes incidental music for plays.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Whatever his staff got wrong was incidental to defeat. Lloyd Green, New York Daily News, 27 June 2024 The court said Tuesday the pair were allegedly responsible for two war crimes: directing attacks at civilian objects and causing excessive incidental harm to civilians or damage to civilian objects. Ivana Kottasová, CNN, 25 June 2024
Noun
Interface and incidentals The PS5 menu features a lot of welcome user interface touches that really help the overall experience of using the system. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, 30 May 2024 We’ve been joined by a number of other philanthropists in covering the costs of lodging, transportation, household expenses, communications costs, and other incidentals for these key investigators in their outposts. Howard Milstein, New York Daily News, 8 Jan. 2024 See all Example Sentences for incidental 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'incidental.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

Adjective

1644, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1707, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of incidental was in 1644

Dictionary Entries Near incidental

Cite this Entry

“Incidental.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/incidental. Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

incidental

1 of 2 adjective
in·​ci·​den·​tal ˌin(t)-sə-ˈdent-ᵊl How to pronounce incidental (audio)
1
: happening by chance
2
: of minor importance

incidental

2 of 2 noun
: something that is incidental

Legal Definition

incidental

adjective
in·​ci·​den·​tal ˌin-sə-ˈdent-ᵊl How to pronounce incidental (audio)
1
: subordinate or secondary in importance or position
incidental benefits
2
3
: occurring by chance or in isolation
incidental use of a person's image
incidentally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on incidental

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