happening or likely to happen in an unplanned or subordinate conjunction with something else.
incurred casually and in addition to the regular or main amount: incidental expenses.
likely to happen or naturally appertaining (usually followed by to).


something incidental, as a circumstance.
incidentals, minor expenses.

Origin of incidental

First recorded in 1610–20; incident + -al1
Related formsin·ci·den·tal·ness, nounnon·in·ci·den·tal, adjectivenon·in·ci·den·tal·ly, adverbun·in·ci·den·tal, adjectiveun·in·ci·den·tal·ly, adverb
Can be confusedincidence incidents incidental

Synonyms for incidental

Antonyms for incidental Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for incidental

Contemporary Examples of incidental

Historical Examples of incidental

  • There would be an incidental creation of water power which could be used for generating electricity.

  • Nevertheless, his successors were so emboldened by incidental utterances like the above that they went to much greater lengths.

    The Basis of Morality

    Arthur Schopenhauer

  • We have incidental references during the ensuing decade to the existence of sick wards in workhouses.

  • The idea of saving and safeguarding these materials is only incidental to those who do not help to produce them.

    The Holy Earth

    L. H. Bailey

  • But in poems of every class there are descriptions of nature, though occupying an incidental and secondary position.

British Dictionary definitions for incidental



happening in connection with or resulting from something more important; casual or fortuitous
(postpositive foll by to) found in connection (with); related (to)
(postpositive foll by upon) caused (by)
occasional or minorincidental expenses


(often plural) an incidental or minor expense, event, or action
Derived Formsincidentalness, noun
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

Word Origin and History for incidental

"casual, occasional," 1610s, from Medieval Latin incidentalis, from incidens (see incident (n.)). Incidentals (n.) "'occasional' expenses, etc.," is attested by 1707.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper