[ ten-tuh-tiv ]
See synonyms for: tentativetentativelytentativeness on Thesaurus.com

  1. of the nature of or made or done as a trial, experiment, or attempt; experimental: a tentative report on her findings.

  2. unsure; uncertain; not definite or positive; hesitant: a tentative smile on his face.

Origin of tentative

First recorded in 1580–90; from Medieval Latin tentātīvus, equivalent to Latin tentāt(us) (past participle of tentāre, variant of temptāre “to test”; see tempt) + -īvus adjective suffix (see -ive)

Other words from tentative

  • ten·ta·tive·ly, adverb
  • ten·ta·tive·ness, noun
  • non·ten·ta·tive, adjective
  • non·ten·ta·tive·ness, noun
  • pre·ten·ta·tive, adjective

Words Nearby tentative

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use tentative in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for tentative


/ (ˈtɛntətɪv) /

  1. provisional or experimental; conjectural

  2. hesitant, uncertain, or cautious

Origin of tentative

C16: from Medieval Latin tentātīvus, from Latin tentāre to test

Derived forms of tentative

  • tentatively, adverb
  • tentativeness, 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