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[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.
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
tentatively, adverb
tentativeness, noun
nontentative, adjective
nontentatively, adverb
nontentativeness, noun
pretentative, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tentatively
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "He might ha' done that, to be sure," said Joseph, tentatively.

    Aunt Rachel David Christie Murray
  • "I suppose you are getting bored by this delay," she said tentatively.

  • Spurling played with the butt of his revolver as he said these words, and looked at Granger tentatively, then looked aside.

    Murder Point Coningsby Dawson
  • "I guess you better hold these loose in your hand," she said tentatively.

    Country Neighbors Alice Brown
  • In the presence of severe immediate symptoms we may tentatively assume that a simultaneous destructive lesion has been produced.

British Dictionary definitions for tentatively


provisional or experimental; conjectural
hesitant, uncertain, or cautious
Derived Forms
tentatively, adverb
tentativeness, noun
Word Origin
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
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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
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