Definition of marginal
1 : written or printed in the margin of a page or sheet <marginal notes>
2a : of, relating to, or situated at a margin or borderb : not of central importance <regards violence as a marginal rather than a central problem>; also : limited in extent, significance, or stature <had only marginal success with the business>c (1) : occupying the borderland of a relatively stable territorial or cultural area <marginal tribes> (2) : characterized by the incorporation of habits and values from two divergent (see divergent 1) cultures and by incomplete assimilation (see 1assimilate 2a) in either <the marginal cultural habits of new immigrant groups> (3) : excluded from or existing outside the mainstream of society, a group, or a school of thought <marginal voters>
3 : located at the fringe of consciousness <marginal sensations>
4a : close to the lower limit of qualification, acceptability, or function : barely exceeding the minimum requirements <a semiliterate person of marginal ability>b (1) : having a character or capacity fitted to yield a supply of goods which when marketed at existing price levels will barely cover the cost of production <marginal land> (2) : of, relating to, or derived from goods produced and marketed with such result <marginal profits>
5 : relating to or being a function of a random variable that is obtained from a function of several random variables by integrating or summing over all possible values of the other variables <a marginal probability function>
marginalityplay \ˌmär-jə-ˈna-lə-tē\ noun
marginallyplay \ˈmärj-nə-lē, ˈmär-jə-nəl-ē\ adverb
Examples of marginal in a sentence
There has been only a marginal improvement in her condition.
His reading and writing abilities are marginal.
Origin and Etymology of marginal
Medieval Latin marginalis, from Latin margin-, margo
First Known Use: 1573
MARGINAL Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of marginal for English Language Learners
: not very important
: very slight or small
: not included in the main part of society or of a group
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