Simple Definition of nominal
: existing as something in name only : not actual or real
: very small in amount
Full Definition of nominal
2 a : of, relating to, or constituting a name b : bearing the name of a person
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 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 : being according to plan : satisfactory <everything was nominal during the launch>
Examples of nominal
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
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
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
Each of the ten years of nominal peace saw plenty of bloodshed. —Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the West: 1769-1776, (1894) 1995
Her title of vice president had been nominal only.
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
Origin of nominal
First Known Use: 1904
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up nominal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).