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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective For example, the front yellow USB slot was the proper slot to insert a flash drive, not an incidental color placed there by chance. Aaron Peter, Wired, "I Bricked My Computer With a BIOS Update. But There's Hope!," 15 Nov. 2020 The league’s rules allow for a runner to push a defender’s helmet without being called for a face-mask penalty, provided the contact is deemed incidental. Ken Belson, New York Times, "Derrick Henry and the Art of the Stiff Arm," 22 Oct. 2020 Who is more likely to see race as incidental not essential to character — Biden or Trump? Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Vote No on 1984," 2 Nov. 2020 Whether their perception is accurate is often incidental, at best, to the feeling itself. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, "The Pandemic Broke America’s Understanding of Safety," 26 Oct. 2020 Minor, incidental contact in the penalty area is now studied like footage of the Moon landing, only the consequences come with much greater gravity. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "The Week English Soccer Lost the Plot," 7 Oct. 2020 The morale of the culture is revealed by a common menu of the characters to be admired or deplored, as well as the catchwords and clichés and incidental phraseology that convey the necessary features of an attitude. David Bromwich, Harper's Magazine, "Is America Ungovernable?," 27 Oct. 2020 This is not uncommon; incidental solitary lung nodules are found on CT studies from 8 to 51 percent of the time. Carolyn Barber, Scientific American, "COVID's Other Toll: Unnecessary Tests and Huge Hospital Bills," 24 Oct. 2020 For people like me, who need a smartphone and prefer Apple’s, the 12’s 5G support is almost incidental. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "Is 5G Worth The Cost of an iPhone 12?," 20 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Additional perks: In the event of a travel delay, the CSP offers $500-a-day coverage for hotels, meals, and incidentals. Emily Long, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Travel Credit Cards of 2020," 3 Feb. 2020 The exact cost of the trip for the Secret Service is unclear, since the DHS IG could not calculate how much was spent on meals and incidentals and did not say how many Secret Service employees accompanied the president. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, "Secret Service incurred more than $950,000 in expenses for Trump stay at his Scotland resort," 24 Mar. 2020 This total doesn’t include most meals, in-city transportation or incidentals (such as college sweatshirts). cleveland, "I travel-hacked a college tour and saved $3,000," 23 Feb. 2020 This total doesn’t include most meals, in-city transportation or incidentals (such as college sweatshirts). Liz Weston, Dallas News, "Don’t let your travel rewards pile up and go unused," 8 Feb. 2020 This total doesn’t include most meals, in-city transportation or incidentals (such as college sweatshirts). cleveland, "I travel-hacked a college tour and saved $3,000," 23 Feb. 2020 Additional perks: The Gold card comes with a $100 annual credit toward incidentals on a single airline plus a $10-per-month credit on dining via GrubHub, Seamless, and a small selection of restaurants. Emily Long, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Travel Credit Cards of 2020," 3 Feb. 2020 This total doesn’t include most meals, in-city transportation or incidentals (such as college sweatshirts). cleveland, "I travel-hacked a college tour and saved $3,000," 23 Feb. 2020 This total doesn’t include most meals, in-city transportation or incidentals (such as college sweatshirts). Liz Weston, Dallas News, "Don’t let your travel rewards pile up and go unused," 8 Feb. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of incidental

Adjective

1644, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1707, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about incidental

Time Traveler for incidental

Time Traveler

The first known use of incidental was in 1644

See more words from the same year

Statistics for incidental

Last Updated

24 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Incidental.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/incidental. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for incidental

incidental

adjective
How to pronounce incidental (audio)

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
3 : occurring by chance or in isolation incidental use of a person's image

Other Words from incidental

incidentally adverb

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on incidental

What made you want to look up incidental? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!