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 marginal (audio) \ noun
marginally \ ˈmärj-​nə-​lē How to pronounce marginal (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 Given that the marginal excess burden of the corporate tax is roughly 30 percent of the revenue raised, this would mean that for every single dollar generated for the government 65 cents would be lost from workers’ pockets. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "Adventures in ESG — JPMorgan’s Own Goal and Other Stories," 24 Apr. 2021 That starts with raising the top marginal income tax and the tax on capital gains — the proceeds of selling an asset like a stock or a boat — for people earning more than $1 million. New York Times, "Biden Will Seek Tax Increase on Rich to Fund Child Care and Education," 22 Apr. 2021 This coupled with a marginal fall in revenues, could lead to a rise in net income to $0.3 billion in fiscal 2021. Trefis Team, Forbes, "News Corp Stock To Trade Higher Post Fiscal Q3 Release?," 6 May 2021 Sometimes, however, tornadic thunderstorms can erupt in marginal setups, particularly when warm fronts are involved. Washington Post, "Tornadic storm tears through West Virginia and parts of northern Maryland: How it happened," 4 May 2021 But as farming and cattle raising become more marginal because of climate change, and young people seeking a different life, more and more people will move to informal settlements like the ones around Rundu, the regional capital. Peter Rudden, CNN, "A Canadian oil firm thinks it has struck big. Some fear it could ravage a climate change hotspot," 3 May 2021 Ten wins with marginal talent last season showed Flores can coach. Dave Hyde,, "Hyde: Did Chris Grier get some roster do-overs right this Dolphins draft? | Commentary," 1 May 2021 The routine addition of epsom salts can lead to salt accumulation in the soil, which can lead to leaf tip dieback, marginal leaf chlorosis and necrosis (or burn). Rita Perwich, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Just how fertile is your rose-growing knowledge?," 1 May 2021 The lure of marginal revenue could push manufacturers in a different direction as eye-tracking vendors find new ways to monetize drivers’ data. Los Angeles Times, "The (near) future of driving: Cars that watch you watch them steer," 29 Apr. 2021

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

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Marginal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for marginal



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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