marginal

adjective mar·gin·al \ ˈmärj-nəl , ˈmär-jə-nᵊl \
Updated on: 6 Dec 2017

Definition of marginal

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

marginality

play \ˌmär-jə-ˈna-lə-tē\ noun

marginally

play \ˈmärj-nə-lē, ˈmär-jə-nᵊl-ē\ adverb

Examples of marginal in a Sentence

  1. There has been only a marginal improvement in her condition.

  2. His reading and writing abilities are marginal.

Recent Examples of marginal from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of marginal

Medieval Latin marginalis, from Latin margin-, margo

marginal Synonyms


MARGINAL Defined for English Language Learners

marginal

adjective

Definition of marginal for English Language Learners

  • : not very important

  • : very slight or small

  • : not included in the main part of society or of a group


Medical Dictionary

marginal

adjective mar·gin·al \ ˈmärj-nəl, -ən-ᵊl \

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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