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

But plot is very nearly incidental to this novel; all of its real conviction lies in style, which is, in an age suspicious of ornament, defiantly baroque, studded with gratuitous beauties. Garth Greenwell, The New Yorker, "Caleb Crain’s “Overthrow” and the Power of Literary Form," 28 Aug. 2019 If performing a significant share of the country’s abortions were merely incidental to its mission, Planned Parenthood would gladly give it up. Rich Lowry, National Review, "For Planned Parenthood, No Doctors Need Apply," 19 July 2019 Compared to the sheer desperation of the narrator’s frame of mind, the details of the murder feel incidental, unimportant. Abhrajyoti Chakraborty, The New Republic, "Natalia Ginzburg’s Radical Clarity," 5 Aug. 2019 Like many head injuries in touch football, the contact was incidental. Ken Belson, New York Times, "Touch Football, Sold as Safer, Now Requires a Helmet," 20 Aug. 2019 Even if speculating about Yorke’s own personal meanings is inevitable, the true intention of the words is incidental. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Thom Yorke’s Beautiful New Nightmare," 29 June 2019 But really the presidents are incidental here, a mere organizing tool. Steve Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "A Woodstock vest and a Trump Grammy dress: Rock and politics come together in ‘Louder Than Words’," 19 June 2019 Amid all these broader shakeouts in the journalism market, it should be noted that the Times is not simply an incidental victor. Alex Pareene, The New Republic, "Here’s a Better Reason to Unsubscribe From The New York Times," 9 Aug. 2019 Miles can be redeemed for a broad array of travel expenses, including airline tickets and hotel stays, but also taxes and fees on tickets, incidental charges like room service, as well as purchases like cruises, train fares, and car rentals. Eric Rosen, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Cash-Back Travel Rewards Cards," 26 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Most airlines generally do not reimburse for incidentals or accommodations in situations that are not their fault. Bharbi Hazarika, Los Angeles Times, "San Francisco flight delays ease as runway construction continues," 13 Sep. 2019 Throw in $500 for meals and incidentals, and the total cost of the dental trip/vacation came in under $4,100. Mike Salmon, chicagotribune.com, "Dental tourism: A vacation and bargain dentistry to boot," 5 Sep. 2019 Hatch noted this doesn’t cover associated costs like books, travel to campus or other incidentals. Elizabeth Hernandez, The Denver Post, "A Colorado private college pledges to slash price for lower-income, in-state students," 27 Aug. 2019 Ground transportation, meals, in-room or other personal charges at lodging (e.g., mini-bar, movies), telephone calls, gratuities, incidentals, and all other expenses are not included. Kwasi Boadi, Billboard, ""The Crowd Control Contest" Sponsored by Billboard, a division of MRC Media, LLC ("Sponsor")," 24 Aug. 2019 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

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

26 Sep 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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