mar·​gin·​al·​ize | \ ˈmärj-nə-ˌlīz How to pronounce marginalize (audio) , ˈmär-jə-nᵊl-ˌīz \
marginalized; marginalizing

Definition of marginalize

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.

Other Words from marginalize

marginalization \ ˌmärj-​nə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce marginalize (audio) , ˌmär-​jə-​nᵊl-​ə-​ \ noun

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 The bill is scheduled to take effect in July and comes as conservatives nationwide are pushing for and passing bills that critics say would further marginalize members of the LGBTQ community and limit support from their allies in the classroom. Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN, 1 Apr. 2022 That includes efforts to marginalize its L.G.B.T.Q. community, its assertion that Polish law is paramount to E.U. law, and its reluctance to phase out fossil fuels in line with Europe’s ambitious climate policy. New York Times, 8 Feb. 2022 Her comments harken back to debunked arguments used by anti-gay activists in recent history to smear and marginalize members of the LGBTQ community. Devan Cole, CNN, 8 Mar. 2022 Healthcare has been a driving factor in continuing to marginalize Black people and Black women in particular. al, 28 Feb. 2022 To be sure, there is no doubt that the campaign to remove Rogan from the massive streaming platform is an effort by his critics to try to marginalize him by denying him access to Spotify’s customers. Philip Klein, National Review, 10 Feb. 2022 Some Russian nationalists returned the charge, accusing those new governments of plotting to marginalize or even exterminate the Russian minorities within their borders. New York Times, 19 Feb. 2022 The removal of the books from North East ISD libraries has sparked outrage among some students and community members who decry the effort as censorship that will marginalize minority and LGBT students. Taylor Goldenstein, San Antonio Express-News, 6 Dec. 2021 How can anyone associate me with a government whose extremist media has spared no effort to destroy, marginalize, and stigmatize me in past years. Jennifer Zhan, Vulture, 17 Nov. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'marginalize.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of marginalize

1968, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About marginalize

Time Traveler for marginalize

Time Traveler

The first known use of marginalize was in 1968

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near marginalize




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for marginalize

Last Updated

18 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Marginalize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on marginalize

Britannica English: Translation of marginalize for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!