mar·​gin·​al·​ized | \ ˈmärj-nə-ˌlīzd How to pronounce marginalized (audio) , ˈmär-jə-nᵊl-ˌīzd \

Definition of marginalized

: relegated to a marginal position within a society or group Refugees are the world's quintessentially marginalized population: They are by definition located at the edge, beyond boundaries, on the outside.— Tamar Mayer … the domination and oppression of women and other marginalized groups within patriarchal culture.— Susan M. Squier

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.

First Known Use of marginalized

1969, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About marginalized

Time Traveler for marginalized

Time Traveler

The first known use of marginalized was in 1969

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near marginalized



marginal lappet

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for marginalized

Cite this Entry

“Marginalized.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2022.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on marginalized

Britannica English: Translation of marginalized for Arabic Speakers

Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!