[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. tentacle,
  2. tentacled,
  3. tentacular,
  4. tentage,
  5. tentation,
  6. tentatively,
  7. tented,
  8. tenter,
  9. tenterhook,
  10. tenterhooks

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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tentatively

British Dictionary definitions for tentatively


/ (ˈtɛntətɪv) /


provisional or experimental; conjectural
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