mar·​gin·​al | \ ˈmärj-nəl How to pronounce marginal (audio) , ˈmär-jə-nᵊl \

Definition of marginal

1 : written or printed in the margin of a page or sheet marginal notes
2a : 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 (see divergent sense 1) cultures and by incomplete assimilation (see assimilate entry 1 sense 2a) 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
4a : 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

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Other Words from marginal

marginality \ ˌmär-​jə-​ˈna-​lə-​tē How to pronounce marginality (audio) \ noun
marginally \ ˈmärj-​nə-​lē How to pronounce marginally (audio) , ˈmär-​jə-​nᵊl-​ē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for marginal



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Examples of marginal in a Sentence

There has been only a marginal improvement in her condition. His reading and writing abilities are marginal.
Recent Examples on the Web Many of the richest people in the country still face a marginal income tax rate of more than 50 percent. Dean Baker, The New Republic, "Building an Economy That Works Again," 14 May 2020 Plaintiffs argued that the law only allows the courts to charge the marginal cost of distributing documents—a tiny fraction of the current fee. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Downloading public court documents costs a dime a page—is that legal?," 6 Feb. 2020 While the performance benefits are marginal, the PSCBs keep the rollers bright and shiny. Eric Tingwall, Car and Driver, "Brake-Dust Busters: Porsche's New Brake Rotors Promise to Keep Wheels Clean," 15 Apr. 2020 Finisher Where’s Rufus crossed the line first but was disqualified for interfering with the second-place finisher Taylor’s Prince, a decision that seemed to be marginal. Danielle Allentuck, New York Times, "Too Young to Qualify for the 2020 Olympics? Not Anymore," 10 Apr. 2020 If Congress wants to spur growth, then cut marginal rates, which would at least increase the incentive to work and invest. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Pelosi Pitches a Blue-State Bailout," 31 Mar. 2020 Greggs’ employees will face implicit marginal tax rates of up to 75%. The Economist, "Tax and benefits Greggs and the vegan sausage roll bonus," 18 Jan. 2020 His study adds to the economic research finding that the EITC phase-out causes steep infra-marginal tax rates as workers make more money. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "An Overhyped Tax Credit," 5 Feb. 2020 An unused substitute at Villa Park, Milner watched from the bench as Liverpool fell behind, saw Roberto Firmino's finish ruled out for a (very) marginal offside and claimed a comeback victory through Andrew Robertson and Sadio Mane's late finishes., "James Milner Wins Internet With His Instagram Post After Liverpool’s Late Win," 3 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'marginal.' 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 marginal

1573, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for marginal

Medieval Latin marginalis, from Latin margin-, margo

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Time Traveler for marginal

Time Traveler

The first known use of marginal was in 1573

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Statistics for marginal

Last Updated

18 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Marginal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2020.

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How to pronounce marginal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of marginal

: not very important
: very slight or small
: not included in the main part of society or of a group


mar·​gin·​al | \ ˈmärj-nəl, -ən-ᵊl How to pronounce marginal (audio) \

Medical Definition of marginal

1 : of, relating to, or situated at a margin or border
2 : located at the fringe of consciousness marginal sensations

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