diminishing returns

plural noun

Definition of diminishing returns

1 : a rate of yield that beyond a certain point fails to increase in proportion to additional investments of labor or capital
2 : benefits that beyond a certain point fail to increase in proportion to extended efforts

Examples of diminishing returns in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In recent years, this trend peaked, and there is growing realization that diminishing returns are quite present in research endeavors. Richard Vedder, Forbes, 27 Dec. 2021 The name surely carries plenty of equity, but like the movies, this HBO Max show yields diminishing returns. Brian Lowry, CNN, 9 Dec. 2021 Bad sequels produce diminishing returns, and very bad sequels send those returns plummeting down to the earth’s core. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 14 Oct. 2021 Blame it on a classic economic culprit, diminishing returns. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 3 Sep. 2021 This approach eventually led to diminishing returns. Zach Osterman, The Indianapolis Star, 20 Nov. 2021 But the Jets and their fans already know that there's a point of diminishing returns in that growth-adversity balance for a young quarterback. Andy Vasquez, USA TODAY, 28 Sep. 2021 Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the strategy is facing a problem of diminishing returns when dealing with the highly transmissible Delta variant. Steve George, CNN, 13 Sep. 2021 The first is that, in general, there were diminishing returns to mutation over time: the bacteria made many of their most reproductively advantageous moves early on. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'diminishing returns.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of diminishing returns

1815, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for diminishing returns

Time Traveler

The first known use of diminishing returns was in 1815

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Dictionary Entries Near diminishing returns


diminishing returns

diminishing rule

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Statistics for diminishing returns

Last Updated

21 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Diminishing returns.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diminishing%20returns. Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about diminishing returns


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