Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Not fully worked out, concluded, or agreed on; provisional: tentative plans.
  • adj. Uncertain; hesitant.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A trial; an experiment.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to a trial or trials; essaying; experimental.
  • adj. Uncertain; subject to future change.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to a trial or trials; essaying; experimental.
  • n. An essay; a trial; an experiment.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Based on or consisting in trial or experiment; experimental; empirical.
  • n. An essay; a trial; an experiment.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. under terms not final or fully worked out or agreed upon
  • adj. unsettled in mind or opinion

Etymologies

Medieval Latin tentātīvus, from Latin tentātus, past participle of tentāre, to try, variant of temptāre.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French tentatif, from Latin tentativus ("trying, testing"), from tento, past participle tentatus ("to try, test"); see tent, tempt. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Her expression tentative, she moved slowly toward the chair facing him and hesitantly sat down on it.

    'I'll Walk Alone'

  • The comments from the E.C.B. president, Mario Draghi, came after the bank's decision to keep its benchmark interest rate steady, amid what it called "tentative" signs that the pace of an economic downturn in Europe had stabilized.

    NYT > Home Page

  • Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control issued what they called tentative proposed standards for food marketed to children, defined as up to age

    Reuters: Top News

  • As adults they remain tentative, withdrawn, and anxious.

    The Science of Success

  • For the most part, the links between particular traits and transmitter levels remain tentative, partly because the former can involve neurochemical choruses, not just solos.

    How We Become What We Are

  • Since the end of the war, the U.S. has engaged in tentative "talks" with the countries of Southeast Asia, primarily Vietnam, which has resulted in the return of several hundred sets of American remains.

    Lawrence, Gregory P.

  • The abruptness of the movement was normal for a Massood, in whose vocabulary the word tentative did not exist.

    A Call to Arms

  • This work was researched and executed during the latter years of the Vietnam War and the period of what might be called tentative détente.

    Interpretations of American History

  • However let's not lose site of the fact is was another performance of just going through the motions, too many passengers not committed to the cause and players seemingly taking delight in short tentative passes to marked team mates.

    Chelsea Blog

  • I was just wondering what the word tentative meant?

    pfblogs.org: The Ad-Free Personal Finance Blogs Aggregator

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Comments

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  • kellerman-flesh and blood: "I got out of the car, descended toward the construction site on foot, using a tentative quarter moon as my compass."

    November 12, 2010

  • I love to say words that have a lot of ts. I like the rhythm sound when I say it.

    January 4, 2007