par·​en·​thet·​i·​cal ˌper-ən-ˈthe-ti-kəl How to pronounce parenthetical (audio)
variants or less commonly parenthetic
: of, relating to, or expressed in a parenthesis
a parenthetical remark/comment/note
One sentence runs on for nearly two pages; other sentences meander through the potholes of so many parenthetical expressions as to make it nearly impossible to follow the trail of the argument …James Q. Wilson
In a construction of this sort, the phrase "the coach said" should be regarded as a parenthetical insert and should be implicitly thought of as flanked by commas.Samuel R. Levin
… his travel diaries were notable for their erratic punctuation, parenthetic embellishments and an extraordinary way with adjectives.William Dalrymple
: enclosed in parentheses
a foreign word followed by a parenthetical translation
The recuperating Yankees have a parenthetical medical problem that is now part of each player's name: Hernández (elbow), Pettitte (elbow), Rivera (ankle), Mendoza (shoulder), O'Neill (foot), Justice (groin), Jeter (hamstring), Knoblauch (elbow). Put them together and it spells Yankees (problems).Dave Anderson
: containing parentheses : using or given to using parentheses
a parenthetical style
parenthetically adverb
"They are a good nucleus of ideas for me," she says, adding, almost parenthetically, "Of course you have to know a lot about medicine to understand them." Publishers Weekly

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web At other moments, Acker stresses discontinuity: a murderess’s hallucination is interrupted, mid-sentence, by a parenthetical reflection on a humiliating affair. Maggie Doherty, The New Yorker, 28 Nov. 2022 That single sentence, more or less a parenthetical clearing of the throat, made an impression on Reavis and his wife and business partner, Jennifer Meltzer. Washington Post, 3 May 2021 The opponent, the New York Rangers, and the outcome, to be determined, are almost parenthetical. Phil Thompson, Chicago Tribune, 18 Dec. 2022 Many accounts of the atomization and losses of contemporary pregnancy ritualistically offer parenthetical acknowledgment of one’s own privileged position, and the rhetorical aside of wonder how those with less privilege can possibly manage. Laura Tanenbaum, The New Republic, 17 Aug. 2022 Ok, that parenthetical might not be true, but come on, a legend like that arising out of that game isn’t totally unfeasible. Ashley Bastock, cleveland, 6 July 2022 The Thai cabinet — headed by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former military chief and leader of the 2014 coup — approved the Royal Society’s ruling with its own decree, making a parenthetical Bangkok the law of the land. New York Times, 2 Apr. 2022 A lot of editors, and others, would not like those two parenthetical phrases in a row. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 7 Oct. 2020 The parenthetical seems intended to drive home his point: Those uncorrupted by politics do the work. Washington Post, 25 Sep. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'parenthetical.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1624, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of parenthetical was in 1624

Dictionary Entries Near parenthetical

Cite this Entry

“Parenthetical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

A Good Old-Fashioned Quiz

Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?