Simple Definition of marginal
: not very important
: very slight or small
: not included in the main part of society or of a group
Full Definition of marginal
1 : written or printed in the margin of a page or sheet <marginal notes>
2 a : of, relating to, or situated at a margin or border b : not of central importance <regards violence as a marginal rather than a central problem>; also : limited in extent, significance, or stature <had only marginal success with the business> c (1) : occupying the borderland of a relatively stable territorial or cultural area <marginal tribes> (2) : characterized by the incorporation of habits and values from two divergent cultures and by incomplete assimilation in either <the marginal cultural habits of new immigrant groups> (3) : excluded from or existing outside the mainstream of society, a group, or a school of thought <marginal voters>
3 : located at the fringe of consciousness <marginal sensations>
4 a : close to the lower limit of qualification, acceptability, or function : barely exceeding the minimum requirements <a semiliterate person of marginal ability> b (1) : having a character or capacity fitted to yield a supply of goods which when marketed at existing price levels will barely cover the cost of production <marginal land> (2) : of, relating to, or derived from goods produced and marketed with such result <marginal profits>
5 : relating to or being a function of a random variable that is obtained from a function of several random variables by integrating or summing over all possible values of the other variables <a marginal probability function>
Examples of marginal
There has been only a marginal improvement in her condition.
His reading and writing abilities are marginal.
Origin of marginal
Medieval Latin marginalis, from Latin margin-, margo
First Known Use: 1573
Medical Definition of marginal
1: of, relating to, or situated at a margin or border
2: located at the fringe of consciousness <marginal sensations>
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up marginal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).