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[ten-tuh-tiv] /ˈtɛn tə tɪv/
of the nature of or made or done as a trial, experiment, or attempt; experimental:
a tentative report on her findings.
unsure; uncertain; not definite or positive; hesitant:
a tentative smile on his face.
Origin of tentative
1580-90; < Medieval Latin tentātīvus, equivalent to Latin tentāt(us) (past participle of tentāre, variant of temptāre to test; see tempt) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
tentatively, adverb
tentativeness, noun
nontentative, adjective
nontentatively, adverb
nontentativeness, noun
pretentative, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for tentatively
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "They might have deserted her for her insurance," suggested Madden tentatively.

    The Cruise of the Dry Dock T. S. Stribling
  • They half circled about each other, tentatively, snarling and bristling.

    White Fang Jack London
  • "Perhaps I don't quite follow your meaning," commented the other tentatively.

    The Market-Place Harold Frederic
  • "Your stake's pretty big, already," commented Thorpe, tentatively.

    The Market-Place Harold Frederic
  • "But perhaps I'd better come in another day," he suggested, tentatively.

    The Market-Place Harold Frederic
British Dictionary definitions for tentatively


provisional or experimental; conjectural
hesitant, uncertain, or cautious
Derived Forms
tentatively, adverb
tentativeness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin tentātīvus, from Latin tentāre to test
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tentatively



1580s, from Medieval Latin tentativus "trying, testing," from Latin tentatus, past participle of tentare "to feel, try," (variant of temptare "to feel, try, test"). Related: Tentatively.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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