de minimis


de min·​i·​mis dē-ˈmi-nə-məs How to pronounce de minimis (audio)
: lacking significance or importance : so minor as to merit disregard
de minimis fringe benefits
what amounts to a de minimis tax increase

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Proponents of readable prose over jargon and legalese might argue that the last thing 20th-century American jurisprudence needed was another Latin term. Yet here we have a legal term that entered English only around 1950. Perhaps we should clarify: the legal doctrine of de minimis non curat lex ("the law does not concern itself with trifling matters") has been around for a while, but use of de minimis on its own is relatively recent. At first, the shortened phrase was simply used to refer to the legal doctrine itself ("the de minimis rule"). Then it came to be used more broadly as an adjective ("de minimis contacts with the defendant"). Finally, de minimis leaked out of the courtroom and into the world at large.

Examples of de minimis in a Sentence

investors disappointed by stock dividends that were decidedly de minimis
Recent Examples on the Web Are ‘adverse financial consequences’ required to be substantial, or is a de minimis loss (e.g., $100) sufficient to permit a withdrawal? Alex Mann, Baltimore Sun, 8 Sep. 2023 Now, the Supreme Court says interpreting Hardison primarily through the de minimis standard interpretation is a mistake. Sanya Mansoor, Time, 29 June 2023 And in some other states, there is a de minimis exemption for tangible personal property, meaning that tax is not owed on items with a small value. Kelly Phillips Erb, Forbes, 22 Feb. 2023 In mid-June, two bipartisan bills were introduced to exempt China from de minimis trade, a rule that allows foreign countries to avoid paying tariffs on packages valued under $800. Rachel Tashjian, Washington Post, 28 June 2023 In 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an employer need not accommodate an employee’s religious practice if the employer demonstrates that doing so would impose more than a de minimis, meaning trivial, cost on the employer or coworkers. Dan Eaton, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 May 2023 In 1977, the court defined such a hardship as an accommodation that would place more than a minimal burden or ‘’de minimis cost,’’ on the company’s operations. Ann E. Marimow,, 29 June 2023 It’s now trained its sights on Amazon AMZN +1.6% and is a big beneficiary of de minimis. Kenneth Rapoza, Forbes, 2 May 2023 Such bulk orders are not de minimis, as container loads will cost over $800. Kenneth Rapoza, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'de minimis.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin, concerning trifles

First Known Use

1905, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of de minimis was in 1905


Dictionary Entries Near de minimis

Cite this Entry

“De minimis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

Legal Definition

de minimis

: lacking significance or importance : so minor as to be disregarded compare substantial

Note: An action may be dismissed if the claim or cause is considered de minimis.


New Latin, concerning trifles

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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