mar·​gin·​al·​ize ˈmärj-nə-ˌlīz How to pronounce marginalize (audio)
marginalized; marginalizing

transitive verb

: to relegate (see relegate sense 2) to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group
We are protesting policies that marginalize women.
ˌmärj-nə-lə-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce marginalize (audio)

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Marginalized Writing vs. Marginalized People

Marginalize provides a striking case of how thoroughly the figurative use of a word can take over the literal one. The original (and now obsolete) meaning of this word, “to write notes in the margin of,” is analogous to the still-familiar noun marginalia “marginal notes or embellishments." A margin is, of course, the blank space surrounding the text in a book. Just prior to 1970, marginalize took on the sense that is most commonly encountered today, “to relegate to an unimportant or powerless position” (that is, to the metaphorical margins of society). This use of the word can be found as far back as 1968; an article in The Los Angeles Times from June 20th of that year reports, “[T]he Negro was kept aside, marginalized, thus composing in its large majority the chronically poor.” In its newer sense, marginalize has assumed a much more prominent place in the vocabulary than it once had.

Examples of marginalize in a Sentence

The program helps people from marginalized groups.
Recent Examples on the Web One report detailed the experiences of Black doctors, finding that they are often marginalized at work and in recruitment processes but used as tokens for diversity initiatives. Sakshi Venkatraman, NBC News, 13 Sep. 2023 Romney, who describes his career in politics as a moral mission driven by his Mormon faith, has in recent years been marginalized in a party that has shifted to the right under the sway of Trump. Annie Karni,, 13 Sep. 2023 The primary complaint is that these changes would be particularly harmful to solo, indie, marginalized, and mobile developers. Ash Parrish, The Verge, 12 Sep. 2023 Ehrenfeld also wants to continue his advocacy work in improving the health of populations that have been historically marginalized. Megan Woolard, Journal Sentinel, 7 Sep. 2023 His party’s efforts to rally and elevate Hindus — both a lifelong ideological project and a potent lure for votes — have marginalized hundreds of millions of Muslims and other minorities as second-class citizens. Hari Kumar, New York Times, 7 Sep. 2023 This country’s economy could not function without the labor of Black women, yet our economy was built to marginalize them. Michelle Holder and Anne Price, Essence, 4 Sep. 2023 This model woefully marginalizes children with ASD. Alexander Lopez, Fortune, 1 Sep. 2023 Ultimately, there are ways of completely marginalizing people like me who don’t stick within the lines that are drawn for us. Addie Morfoot, Variety, 31 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'marginalize.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1968, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of marginalize was in 1968

Dictionary Entries Near marginalize

Cite this Entry

“Marginalize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


mar·​gin·​al·​ize ˈmärj-nəl-ˌīz How to pronounce marginalize (audio)
marginalized; marginalizing
: to remove to or keep in a position without influence in a society or group
marginalization noun

More from Merriam-Webster on marginalize

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