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

Examples of parenthetical in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Yes, that parenthetical, fourth wall-breaking note is literally in there. Paul Tassi, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 However, one parenthetical seemed like an unfair characterization. The New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2024 The parenthetical statements are in Stevens’ complaint. Anthony Man, Sun Sentinel, 3 Jan. 2024 Hence, the parenthetical dating throughout the lyrics as those memories pop in & out. Evan Minsker, Pitchfork, 17 Nov. 2023 Although that parenthetical has been excised from the final product, the reasoning for it has not. Christian Holub,, 31 May 2023 But the parenthetical after the egg complicates matters. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 May 2023 Not parenthetical: the food! Kara Baskin,, 16 Dec. 2022 The tens of thousands of other people living off the grid elsewhere in America are acknowledged in a single parenthetical aside, and the scope of rural poverty in this country goes entirely unmentioned. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, 21 Nov. 2022

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 15 Jun. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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