incidental

adjective
in·ci·den·tal | \ ˌin(t)-sə-ˈden-tᵊl \

Definition of incidental 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : being likely to ensue as a chance or minor consequence social obligations incidental to the job

b : minor sense 1

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

Winner will be solely responsible for all meals, incidental expenses, tips and gratuities, income and other taxes, ground transportation, and all other costs and expenses not otherwise specified herein. Woman's Day, "Royalton Punta Cana, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Getaway Giveaway," 3 Oct. 2017 But for a long time the user was incidental, a weakness to exploit. Josie Duffy Rice, The Atlantic, "The Gospel According to Pusha T," 12 July 2018 Alan Yendle Woodway, Texas The court chose not to consider the constitutional issue under the 10th Amendment but only the Commerce Clause, which is incidental to the issue in making its decision. WSJ, "Spare Us From the Internet Sales Tax Tsunami," 2 July 2018 Photography, per se, is largely incidental to the show. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, "A different lens for Winslow Homer," 28 June 2018 Watch Now: Hannibal Buress Goes Undercover on Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia But the clothes are usually incidental to an Abloh show; a key part of the hype around Virgil Abloh is the hype itself. Melvin Backman, GQ, "At Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh Goes Over the Rainbow," 22 June 2018 While much of this seed-spreading is probably incidental, a few agricultural mainstays rely heavily on wasps—including figs and orchids. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Five Real Life Wasp Superpowers Not in Ant-Man and the Wasp," 22 Mar. 2018 Jay is one of the few guests on Scorpion -- given their respective legacies, that doesn’t feel incidental. Stereo Williams, Billboard, "Drake's 2018 Has Been Huge. But Is He the Biggest Rapper Ever?," 13 July 2018 Or, consider getting a credit card such as the Bank of America Premium Rewards card that reimburses you for up to $100 in incidental fees charged by airlines. The Motley Fool, "Boost your income: 27 things you're probably wasting your money on right now," 4 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 In August, all members will also begin earning points for food and beverage purchases and qualifying incidentals, rather than just the room rate. Nancy Trejos, USA TODAY, "Marriott Rewards merger with Starwood, Ritz-Carlton programs brings mixed reviews," 20 Apr. 2018 Beyond hotel stays, city employees in Surprise and other metro Phoenix cities receive daily allowances to cover meals and incidentals when traveling. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "Surprise city travel includes four-star hotel stays," 16 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

29 Aug 2018

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 \

Kids Definition of incidental

: happening as an unimportant part of something else incidental expenses

incidental

adjective
in·ci·den·tal | \ ˌin-sə-ˈdent-ᵊl \

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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occurring twice a year or every two years

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