Examples of tentative in a Sentence
In the winter, retirees from the Midwest fill the trailer parks. They are known with tentative affection as snowbirds. —William Langewiesche, Atlantic, June 1992
Clearly the President was chastened by the sorrow and resentment of the people to whom he spoke, but his words were somehow tentative and contingent, as if they could be withdrawn on a month's notice. —Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, July 1992
There was a crying need, in the tentative early days of populist toryism, for a voice that could bring the gospel to the lumpen. —Christopher Hitchens, Times Literary Supplement, 30 Nov. 1990
Thus, we have a tentative picture of anatomically modern people arising in Africa over 100,000 years ago, but initially making the same tools as Neanderthals and having no advantage over them. By perhaps 60,000 years ago, some magic twist of behavior had been added to the modern anatomy. —Jared M. Diamond, Discover, May 1989
the baby's first tentative steps
We have tentative plans for the weekend.
Recent Examples of tentative from the Web
An independent monitor will oversee the Chicago Police Department under a tentative agreement that Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration has made with the U.S. Department of Justice, according to a source in the Emanuel administration.
The backstage set is limited and unrealistic and the directors feel tentative in using it.
Mercer Island and Sound Transit have agreed to a tentative settlement that would end the city’s lawsuit against the agency over the loss of direct access to Interstate 90’s express lanes that island drivers have had access to for decades.
One tentative stop is Cincinnati, the source said, and others are being debated as the White House looks to draw attention to decaying roads and bridges.
And leaders are busy lining up votes to pass a tentative deal to raise more than $500 million in taxes on insurers and hospitals to fund the state's Medicaid program.
The firefighters' new tentative agreement will be in effect through Dec. 31, 2019.
Her tentative long-term plan is to become a doctor.
Only the most tentative steps toward useful engineering tools have been made, and most studies are limited to computer simulation.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tentative'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
A "tentative" Explanation
Tentative is from the Latin tentare (“to attempt”), and its original meaning was “attempted, provisional, experimental.” It is easy to see how this emphasis on trial and error led to the word’s current sense “not fully worked out or developed” (as in "a tentative date," "tentative plans," "a tentative job offer"). The “hesitant, uncertain” sense that is also common nowadays (as in “a tentative knock on the door”) extends the idea of an unripe attempt to the uncertain emotional state of the person making the attempt.
Origin and Etymology of tentative
Medieval Latin tentativus, from Latin tentatus, past participle of tentare, temptare to feel, try
First Known Use: 1626See Words from the same year
TENTATIVE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of tentative for English Language Learners
: not done with confidence : uncertain and hesitant
: not definite : still able to be changed
TENTATIVE Defined for Kids
Definition of tentative for Students
1 : not final tentative plans
2 : showing caution or hesitation
tentativelyadverb Harriet walked toward her tentatively, as one would toward a mad dog … — Louise Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy
Seen and Heard
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