plural noun
mar·​gi·​na·​lia | \ ˌmär-jə-ˈnā-lē-ə How to pronounce marginalia (audio) \

Definition of marginalia

1 : marginal notes or embellishments (as in a book)
2 : nonessential items the meat and marginalia of American politicsSaturday Rev.

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Where does marginalia come from?

We don't consider a word's etymology to be marginalia, so we'll start off by telling you the etymology of this one. Marginalia is a New Latin word that can be traced back to the Latin forms margin- and margo, meaning "margin." Marginalia is a relatively new word; our earliest evidence of its use is from 1819. The related adjective marginal is quite a bit older; it was first used in 1573. On the other end of the spectrum is another relative, marginalize. That word was first used in 1970.

Examples of marginalia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This space invites your contemplation and reactions to the text but not as marginalia, as full dialogue. Michael Kleber-diggs Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Review: 'Just Us: An American Conversation,' by Claudia Rankine," 4 Sep. 2020 The male novelist sends me his notes on Nietzsche, written during his undergraduate years, with his anxious marginalia listing which philosophers remained unmarried. New York Times, "‘Drifts,’ by Kate Zambreno: An Excerpt," 19 May 2020 Some of their chats are printed as marginalia in the book. Washington Post, "Prince’s posthumous book released as fans continue to mourn," 29 Oct. 2019 In the marginalia of Destiny's storytelling, which is where most of its story craft up until now has resided, there's an event called the Great Disaster which looms large over the moon's history. Wired, "In Shadowkeep, Destiny 2 Is Ready to Kill the Past," 3 Oct. 2019 Its binding is broken and pages marked with marginalia and coffee stains from hours teaching in the lab—traces of a teacher inspiring the creativity of others. Theresa Mcculla, Smithsonian, "Here’s What’s Brewing in the New Smithsonian Beer Collections," 16 Sep. 2019 And everything— from crap scheduling to dubious rain delays to the cancellation of Gemlife —becomes marginalia. Jon Wertheim,, "Mailbag: Is Nadal's 12 French Opens the Most Unbreakable Record in Tennis History?," 12 June 2019 These journal entries are sometimes incidental to a fault, lapsing at one point into marginalia about Ms. Morris’s bowel habits. Danny Heitman, WSJ, "‘In My Mind’s Eye’ Review: Marching Through the Days," 4 Jan. 2019 The edition is full of marginalia indicating that Ronald took a trip through the Veneto with this book, making notes about the 16th century architecture that dominates that region. David Netto, Town & Country, "Is Heron Bay in Barbados the Most Exquisite House in the World?," 4 May 2018

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

1819, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for marginalia

New Latin, from Medieval Latin, neuter plural of marginalis

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Time Traveler for marginalia

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The first known use of marginalia was in 1819

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Statistics for marginalia

Last Updated

7 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Marginalia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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