See more synonyms for tentative 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

1580–90; < Medieval Latin tentātīvus, equivalent to Latin tentāt(us) (past participle of tentāre, variant of temptāre to test; see tempt) + -īvus -ive
Related formsten·ta·tive·ly, adverbten·ta·tive·ness, nounnon·ten·ta·tive, adjectivenon·ten·ta·tive·ly, adverbnon·ten·ta·tive·ness, nounpre·ten·ta·tive, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tentatively

Contemporary Examples of tentatively

Historical Examples of tentatively

  • "They might have deserted her for her insurance," suggested Madden tentatively.

  • 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


  1. provisional or experimental; conjectural
  2. hesitant, uncertain, or cautious
Derived Formstentatively, adverbtentativeness, noun

Word Origin for tentative

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

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