incidental

adjective
in·​ci·​den·​tal | \ ˌin(t)-sə-ˈden-tᵊl How to pronounce incidental (audio) \

Definition of incidental

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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

noun

Definition of incidental (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Incidental vs. Accidental

Adjective

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Because some states or jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion or the limitation of liability for consequential or incidental damages, in such states or jurisdictions, our liability shall be limited to the maximum extent permitted by law. nybooks.com, "Terms of service," 17 June 2019 In that 2-1 decision, the court said the Legislature may reimburse private schools for the costs to comply with state health, safety and welfare laws, but only if such costs are incidental to teaching and don't involve a key school function. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan Supreme Court to decide controversy over private school funding," 5 June 2019 Lots of praise and attention will be given to Streep, but in many ways, the Oscar-winning actress is incidental to the success of Season 2. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "Review: 'Big Little Lies' Season 2 is almost as exquisite as the original," 7 June 2019 Kivioja started his company about two-and-a-half years ago, and his timing was not incidental. Pete Pichaske, baltimoresun.com, "Drone photography is changing the way Howard County homes are sold," 5 June 2019 These journal entries are sometimes incidental to a fault, lapsing at one point into marginalia about Ms. Morris’s bowel habits. Danny Heitman, WSJ, "‘In My Mind’s Eye’ Review: Marching Through the Days," 4 Jan. 2019 Driscoll said Butina's connections with high-level officials were overhyped and incidental, and came largely through her relationship with Erickson. Gregg Re, Fox News, "Accused Russian spy Maria Butina's lawyer: Russia 'doesn't want her back, they want her out'," 22 July 2018 Most car rental companies require an incidental hold on your credit card. Shelby Deering, Good Housekeeping, "6 Rental Car Tips That'll Save You Time and Money on Your Next Family Trip," 1 Mar. 2019 There were so many penalties called, even on incidental helmet-first contact, that some players feared the game was being ruined. Bill Pennington, The Seattle Times, "Where was the NFL’s new helmet-contact rules on Bradley McDougald’s punishing hit on Raiders’ Amari Cooper?," 15 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Extended foster care took effect in 2012 and provides young adults with stipends — usually around $960 to pay for housing and other incidentals — as well as case management, counseling and a clothing allowance. Rob Waters, The Mercury News, "Graduating from college still a struggle for many California foster youth," 1 July 2019 That includes tuition, room and board and books, plus a cost of attendance stipend to cover incidentals such as travel. Ralph D. Russo, The Seattle Times, "NCAA goes back to court, defending its amateurism rules," 3 Sep. 2018 Contingencies, playground equipment relocation, testing and incidentals bring the total to $613,000. Hillary Davis, latimes.com, "City to pay $360,000 toward Newport Elementary field improvements," 2 Mar. 2018 Available in matte black and gray, or champagne pink and black, the backpacks feature a 15-inch padded laptop sleeve, padded back, and front zipper pocket for your wallet, keys, and other incidentals. Necee Regis, BostonGlobe.com, "Here, there, and everywhere," 10 July 2018 The AmEx Platinum gives an annual $200 credit for the airline of your choice to cover incidentals like bag fees, drinks, and meals on board. Ryan Craggs, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Travel Credit Card," 2 July 2018 Winner may be required to present a valid credit card upon check-in at hotels to cover incidentals that are not included in the Grand Prize. CNN, "OFFICIAL RULES AND REGULATIONS," 12 June 2018 The company has paid for incidentals associated with the trip, including a hotel room in Dearborn, meals and a tuxedo for the auto show's formal charity ball. Phoebe Wall Howard, chicagotribune.com, "'Bullitt' Mustang, the auto world's lost treasure of 50 years, prepares for world tour," 6 Feb. 2018 After paying for utilities, medical bills, laundry and other incidentals, she’s left with about $200 a month for food, clothing and anything else that pops up. Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle, "Trump team’s plan to cut rent aid would devastate the poor, advocates say," 27 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'incidental.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of incidental

Adjective

1644, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1707, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for incidental

Last Updated

4 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for incidental

The first known use of incidental was in 1644

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More Definitions for incidental

incidental

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of incidental

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: happening as a minor part or result of something else

incidental

noun

English Language Learners Definition of incidental (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that happens as a minor part or result of something else : something that is incidental

incidental

adjective
in·​ci·​den·​tal | \ ˌin-sə-ˈden-tᵊl How to pronounce incidental (audio) \

Kids Definition of incidental

: happening as an unimportant part of something else incidental expenses

incidental

adjective
in·​ci·​den·​tal | \ ˌin-sə-ˈdent-ᵊl How to pronounce incidental (audio) \

Legal Definition of incidental

1 : subordinate or secondary in importance or position incidental benefits
2 : incident
3 : occurring by chance or in isolation incidental use of a person's image

Other Words from incidental

incidentally adverb

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Comments on incidental

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