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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.
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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

Related Words for tentativeness

delay, delaying, doubt, dubiety, equivocation, fluctuation, hesitancy, indecision, indecisiveness, indisposition, irresolution, misgiving, mistrust, oscillation, pause, qualm, reluctance, scruple, shilly-shally, skepticism

Examples from the Web for tentativeness

Contemporary Examples of tentativeness

Historical Examples of tentativeness

  • The fact that he remained standing imparted a tentativeness to the situation.

    The Shadow

    Arthur Stringer

  • Lute's eyes were quizzical as she asked with a tentativeness that was palpably assumed, "With—a—with Mr. Barton?"

British Dictionary definitions for tentativeness


  1. provisional or experimental; conjectural
  2. hesitant, uncertain, or cautious
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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 tentativeness



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper