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 That was the case with Rivera, whose movie work was incidental. Los Angeles Times, "Another Oscars, another round of In Memoriam snubs: Where was Adam Schlesinger?," 26 Apr. 2021 Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, said the use of state resources was incidental and people who worked on the book were volunteering their time. Jimmy Vielkind, WSJ, "Production of Gov. Cuomo’s Book to Be Reviewed by State’s Attorney General," 19 Apr. 2021 The iconic nature of Ford and Harley-Davidson isn't simply incidental, said Harley Shaiken, a labor economist who specializes in global production at the University of California, Berkeley. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Ford CEO Jim Farley nominated to Harley-Davidson board of directors," 11 Apr. 2021 The vast majority of those tests are associated with large claims that have many charges, suggesting the nasal swab was incidental to a more complex visit. New York Times, "‘It Felt Like Deception’: An Elite NYC Hospital Charges Huge Virus Test Fees," 30 Mar. 2021 The book includes almost no detail at all about her romantic history, and there's relatively little here, too, about her experience in Hollywood, except as being mostly incidental to the actress' more spiritual evolution. Mary Sollosi, EW.com, "In The Beauty of Living Twice, Sharon Stone shares 2 life stories, of pain and healing: Review," 30 Mar. 2021 The fact that both Congresswoman Steel and Congresswoman Kim are Korean Americans in heavily Asian districts, or that Congressman Valadao is of Portuguese descent in a majority-Latino district, is not incidental to their victories. Elizabeth Heng, National Review, "How Republicans Can Win in California," 24 Mar. 2021 His hit on a defenseless Sean Kuraly in the third period raised some eyebrows, but Cassidy called it incidental. BostonGlobe.com, "Addition of Taylor Hall has given David Krejci a jump in production," 18 Apr. 2021 The strengths of the novel are anything but incidental to the background of one of its authors, Adm. Stavridis, a former destroyer and carrier strike group commander who retired from the Navy in 2013 as NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. Howard W. French, WSJ, "‘2034’ Review: Navigating a Disaster," 15 Apr. 2021 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

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Incidental.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/incidental. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

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

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

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!