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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
  • Some genes have even been linked, tentatively, to these conduct disorders.
  • Two more chimpanzee teeth were later found at the site, an upper incisor and a tooth tentatively identified as a molar.
  • For all these questions the rumor mill provided answers, but tentatively.
  • In fact, new plants are on the way, however tentatively.
  • One might also reach, a bit tentatively, for the notion of animal spirits.
  • So, more tentatively, does the health-service reform he finally got under way in his second term.
  • Now it seems, tentatively, to be flexing a few muscles of its own.
  • She can be a cautious singer, and she started tentatively here.
  • After a decade of painful decline, manufacturing is tentatively adding jobs.
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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