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adjective nom·i·nal \ˈnä-mə-nəl, ˈnäm-nəl\

Simple Definition of nominal

  • : existing as something in name only : not actual or real

  • : very small in amount

Full Definition of nominal

  1. 1 :  of, relating to, or being a noun or a word or expression taking a noun construction

  2. 2 a :  of, relating to, or constituting a name b :  bearing the name of a person

  3. 3 a :  existing or being something in name or form only <nominal head of his party> b :  of, being, or relating to a designated or theoretical size that may vary from the actual :  approximate <the pipe's nominal size> c :  trifling, insignificant <his involvement was nominal> <charged only nominal rent>

  4. 4 of a rate of interest a :  equal to the annual rate of simple interest that would obtain if interest were not compounded when in fact it is compounded and paid for periods of less than a year b :  equal to the percentage by which a repaid loan exceeds the principal borrowed with no adjustment made for inflation

  5. 5 :  being according to plan :  satisfactory <everything was nominal during the launch>

nom·i·nal·ly adverb

Examples of nominal

  1. What gave it resonance was that she was reflecting—in a fun-house mirror—the thuggish behavior of her nominal betters. —Hendrik Hertzberg, New Yorker, 5 Dec. 2005

  2. Instead they will decentralize and devolve power, and rely on the people over whom they have nominal authority to be self-organizing. —Francis Fukuyama, Atlantic, May 1999

  3. Approaching his 68th birthday, Rockefeller had never imagined that his twilight years would be so eventful. His fortune had failed to purchase him even a poor man's mite of tranquillity. As nominal president of Standard Oil, he was in a bind, responsible for actions he had not approved. —Ron Chernow, Business Week, 18 May 1998

  4. Each of the ten years of nominal peace saw plenty of bloodshed. —Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the West: 1769-1776, (1894) 1995

  5. Her title of vice president had been nominal only.

  6. They charge a nominal fee for the service.

Origin of nominal

Middle English nominalle, from Medieval Latin nominalis, from Latin, of a name, from nomin-, nomen name — more at name

First Known Use: 15th century

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms



noun nom·i·nal \ˈnä-mə-nəl, ˈnäm-nəl\

Definition of nominal

  1. :  a word or word group functioning as a noun

Origin of nominal

(see 1nominal)

First Known Use: 1904

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

NOMINAL Defined for Kids


adjective nom·i·nal \ˈnä-mə-nəl\

Definition of nominal

  1. 1 :  existing as something in name only <He was the nominal head of the government.>

  2. 2 :  very small <There's just a nominal fee.>

nom·i·nal·ly adverb

Word Root of nominal

The Latin word nomen, meaning “name,” and its form nominis give us the root nomin. Words from the Latin nomen have something to do with names. To nominate is to name someone as a candidate for election or for an honor. Anything nominal, such as a position or office, exists in name only. A noun or pronoun in the nominative case is in the form that names the subject of a sentence, for example the pronoun I.

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February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

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