ten·​ta·​tive·​ness ˈten-tə-tiv-nəs How to pronounce tentativeness (audio)
: the quality or state of being tentative or hesitant : hesitancy, uncertainty
heard a tentativeness in her voice
… we also have trouble comprehending the meaning of "hope" as that word is used in the New Testament; for us the term always seems to include an element of uncertainty and tentativeness.Herbert W. Chilstrom

Examples of tentativeness in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web His performance that night was hardly a home run, but Biden’s tentativeness was understandable. Philip Elliott, TIME, 24 June 2024 But when actually called upon to sing and dance while wearing a magenta velvet frock coat and top hat, Chalamet displays the tentativeness of someone who only recently emerged from the prelapsarian bliss of childhood into an adolescent’s awareness of the possibility of being embarrassed. Alison Willmore, Vulture, 8 Mar. 2024 What also stood out last season, though, was his surprising tentativeness on some plays. Scott Fowler, Charlotte Observer, 30 May 2024 The pronounced limp of an amputee comes from having to use the hip to throw the leg forward, from the residual limb pulling back motion, and from a tentativeness caused by numerous past falls. Jothy Rosenberg, Forbes, 22 Feb. 2024 Ecker said, however, that Heim has exhibited a bit of what would best be described as tentativeness on pitches in on his hands. Evan Grant, Dallas News, 27 Aug. 2023 Others are using Johnson’s tentativeness to wade into the current crises to take the bullhorn to present themselves as the voice of the city. Dallas News, 7 June 2020 The Bulls nearly found a counter in Zach LaVine, who landed in Utah eager to erase any tentativeness from his play after feeling frustrated by his performance in Monday’s loss in Sacramento. Julia Poe, chicagotribune.com, 17 Mar. 2022 The tentativeness with which Das approaches her subject yields her no deeper a conclusion than the truism that interactions between different cultures are complex, dynamic and subtle. Balaji Ravichandran, Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2023

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

Word History


tentative entry 1 + -ness

First Known Use

1870, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tentativeness was in 1870

Dictionary Entries Near tentativeness

Cite this Entry

“Tentativeness.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tentativeness. Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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