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 borderb : 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 businessc (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
4a : close to the lower limit of qualification, acceptability, or function : barely exceeding the minimum requirements a semiliterate person of marginal abilityb (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
marginalityplay \ˌmär-jə-ˈna-lə-tē\ noun
marginallyplay \ˈmärj-nə-lē, ˈmär-jə-nəl-ē\ adverb
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 of marginal from the Web
Persistently low oil prices could squeeze the marginal price advantage — currently around $2.50 — that West Texas intermediate, the American benchmark, has over the international benchmark, Brent crude.
The second Spring Garden space will include work from the galleries and studios of the 319 building, including Marginal Utility, Practice Gallery, and Napoleon.
Storms across most of the metro area are expected to be scattered in coverage, posing a marginal risk of severe weather.
The plan faced some anxiety in the Senate over spending scarce state dollars on something that would be a boon for central Kansas City but offer at best marginal benefits for the rest of the Missouri.
Marginal options include the Dodge Grand Caravan, a holdover version of the last generation of Fiat Chrysler’s minivan, and the Nissan Quest, which is unchanged for 2017.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk had warned that landing conditions were marginal due to extreme weather, and that the droneship had had to be relocated as a result.
But this year, the rates made only marginal improvement, to 49.2 percent.
Trump will be an exceptional liability on the campaign trail—determined to redeem himself, desperate for validation from his base, and toxic to every candidate in a marginal race.
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
First Known Use: 1573See Words from the same year
MARGINAL Defined for English Language Learners
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
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up marginal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).