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.

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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 While only 11 Republicans broke with party leaders and voted to marginalize Greene, Cheney survived another proxy battle to hold onto her position as the GOP conference chairwoman, No. 3 in leadership. Author: Mike Debonis, Paul Kane, Anchorage Daily News, "After losing committees, Marjorie Taylor Greene says she has been ‘freed’ to push the GOP further right," 6 Feb. 2021 But in the wake of the mob assault and a pair of Senate losses in Georgia, Mr. McConnell had come to view the former president as a dangerous political liability and saw an opening to marginalize Mr. Trump. New York Times, "McConnell Was Done With Trump. His Party Said Not So Fast.," 27 Jan. 2021 The prominence of military officials in Operation Warp Speed has drawn scrutiny on Capitol Hill, where some have questioned whether an outsize military leadership role would marginalize public health agencies. Robert Burns, Star Tribune, "AP FACT CHECK: Trump distorts military role in vaccines," 28 Nov. 2020 Ethnic minority leaders say the landslide has served to marginalize their voices while validating a cult of personality around Suu Kyi. Washington Post, "Suu Kyi’s godlike status drove her Myanmar election win. It threatens to rip the country apart.," 18 Nov. 2020 Patrick famously championed a bill that would’ve restricted potty use to further marginalize transgender citizens. Elaine Ayala,, "Ayala: Dan Patrick’s Texas, where voting has been discouraged by Republicans, or at least not encouraged by them," 22 Oct. 2020 The decision prompted Abraham Lincoln to disregard and marginalize the court. Ryan D. Doerfler, The New Republic, "Making the Supreme Court Safe for Democracy," 13 Oct. 2020 Trump and his supporters have managed to malign the scientists and marginalize the science. Editorial Board Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "A grim milestone for COVID-19: 200,000," 21 Sep. 2020 Mayor Chris Murphy, who served alongside Fails on the council before succeeding him as mayor, denied that the city has intentionally sought to marginalize resident participation at meetings, or hide information about its finances from residents. Scott Huddleston,, "Normally idyllic San Antonio suburb slammed with costly cyber theft, then coronavirus, now lawsuit," 17 Aug. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of marginalize

1968, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for marginalize Time Traveler

The first known use of marginalize was in 1968

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Statistics for marginalize

Last Updated

17 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Marginalize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for marginalize



English Language Learners Definition of marginalize

: to put or keep (someone) in a powerless or unimportant position within a society or group

More from Merriam-Webster on marginalize

Britannica English: Translation of marginalize for Arabic Speakers

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