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 marginalization (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 Given platform to stand up for marginalized and oppressed people. Sean Neumann,, "'Teacher of the Year' Explains Why She Knelt During the National Anthem at College Football Championship," 17 Jan. 2020 The little man is marginalized and the big man is desperate to be a part of his world. Morgan Jerkins, Longreads, "‘To Be Polite By Ignoring the Obvious’: Jess Row on Unpacking Whiteness in Literature," 13 Sep. 2019 Perhaps an entire information industry will be devoted to marginalizing them and calling them Nazis and reducing them to subhuman status. John Kass,, "Column: Something to cry about: The rise of the surveillance state after 9/11," 12 Sep. 2019 And there are worries that even casual, offhand comments can desensitize people to prejudiced tropes that can marginalize and demonize Jews. Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, "With antisemitism on the rise, criticism of Israel fuels political charges of hate," 11 July 2019 Sabina Magliocco, an anthropologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, says the growing interest in magic and witchcraft is a natural response to a cultural moment in which many people feel marginalized and silenced. Deborah Netburn,, "The working witches of Los Angeles just want you to be your best self," 11 June 2019 In June, police arrested five other activists on suspicion of also inciting the Dalits, who have been marginalized for centuries and forced to perform jobs considered unacceptable by other castes. Ashok Sharma, The Seattle Times, "India arrests 5 rights activists for alleged Maoist links," 28 Aug. 2018 Chart said the extirpation was due to marginalized habitat in the Green River upstream of the monument after construction of Flaming Gorge Dam on the Wyoming-Utah border. Debra Utacia Krol, azcentral, "Agency proposes to downlist humpback chub on the Colorado River, citing recovery efforts," 22 Jan. 2020 That treatment eventually propelled many of those marginalized Americans into the Democratic Party, which engineered Prohibition's repeal. David Crary, Anchorage Daily News, "Prohibition began 100 years ago, and its legacy remains," 15 Jan. 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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The first known use of marginalize was in 1968

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Last Updated

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Marginalize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for marginalize


How to pronounce marginalize (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with marginalize

Britannica English: Translation of marginalize for Arabic Speakers

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