nominal

1 of 2

adjective

nom·​i·​nal ˈnä-mə-nᵊl How to pronounce nominal (audio)
ˈnäm-nəl
1
: of, relating to, or being a noun or a word or expression taking a noun construction
2
a
: of, relating to, or constituting a name
b
: bearing the name of a person
3
a
: existing or being something in name or form only
nominal head of his party
b
: of, being, or relating to a designated or theoretical size that may vary from the actual : approximate
the pipe's nominal size
c
: trifling, insignificant
his involvement was nominal
charged only nominal rent
4
of a rate of interest
a
: equal to the annual rate of simple interest that would obtain if interest were not compounded when in fact it is compounded and paid for periods of less than a year
b
: equal to the percentage by which a repaid loan exceeds the principal borrowed with no adjustment made for inflation
5
: being according to plan : satisfactory
everything was nominal during the launch
nominally adverb

nominal

2 of 2

noun

: a word or word group functioning as a noun

Did you know?

Something nominal exists only in name. So the nominal ruler in a constitutional monarchy is the king or queen, but the real power is in the hands of the elected prime minister. In the United Kingdom, the British monarch is also the nominal head of the Church of England; and those baptized in the Church who aren't really churchgoers might be called nominal Christians. A fee can be called nominal when it's small in comparison to the value of what it buys. So, for example, you might sell a friend a good piece of furniture for a nominal amount. And the charge for a doctor's visit might be a nominal $20, since most of the cost is covered by an insurance plan.

Examples of nominal in a Sentence

Adjective What gave it resonance was that she was reflecting—in a fun-house mirror—the thuggish behavior of her nominal betters. Hendrik Hertzberg, New Yorker, 5 Dec. 2005
Instead they will decentralize and devolve power, and rely on the people over whom they have nominal authority to be self-organizing. Francis Fukuyama, Atlantic, May 1999
Approaching his 68th birthday, Rockefeller had never imagined that his twilight years would be so eventful. His fortune had failed to purchase him even a poor man's mite of tranquillity. As nominal president of Standard Oil, he was in a bind, responsible for actions he had not approved. Ron Chernow, Business Week, 18 May 1998
Each of the ten years of nominal peace saw plenty of bloodshed. Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the West: 1769-1776, (1894) 1995
Her title of vice president had been nominal only. They charge a nominal fee for the service. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
The contraceptive has a few nominal side effects, including nausea, headaches, and cramps, but shouldn’t cause disruptions like mood swings and weight gain. Popular Science, 29 Nov. 2023 The company enjoyed a nominal performance of the first stage, got the vehicle through the experimental hot-staging event, and obtained several minutes of performance data by the Starship upper stage's Raptor engines. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 23 Nov. 2023 Some tweak this arrangement by suggesting that the PA would play only a nominal role and that Gaza’s professional class, currently in survival mode, could run the institutions of government to provide services to the population. Joost R. Hiltermann, Foreign Affairs, 22 Nov. 2023 Admission is free, with nominal fees for train rides and Santa visits. Linda McIntosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 Nov. 2023 Spouses or dependents can pay a nominal fee to be buried in a veteran cemetery but benefits such as perpetual care and a gravestone are free. Cara Tabachnick, CBS News, 11 Nov. 2023 Beyond the rule being too simplistic for many investing situations, the calculation only factors in compounding interest and is based on nominal returns. Anna-Louise Jackson, wsj.com, 11 Nov. 2023 During the turmoil, the House is now led by a nominal interim speaker pro tempore, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the bow-tie-wearing chairman of the Financial Services Committee. Lisa Mascaro, Fortune, 24 Oct. 2023 With defense spending already bulging close to $800 billion in nominal terms, various constituencies within the Department of Defense feel that their priorities are not being met; allowing nuclear weapons spending to surge would be both infeasible and imprudent. Ankit Panda, The New Republic, 24 Oct. 2023
Noun
Starship landing nominal! William Harwood, CBS News, 6 May 2021 And 73 others paid less than half of the US nominal 21% corporate tax rate. Reuven Avi-Yonah For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, 24 Nov. 2021 Yield differentials between nominal and inflation-protected securities, for example, suggest CPI inflation will spend the next five years hovering mostly around 2.8% but then gradually fall to roughly 2% about a decade from now. Sam Goldfarb, WSJ, 22 Oct. 2021 However, if the Heat were to add a player such as Kyle with cap space, then a return by Oladipo likely would come down to a willingness to take a nominal, if not minimum, salary for the coming season. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, 30 July 2021 By forcing Republicans to square their new feint toward populism with their continuing loyalty to corporate interests, progressives can exploit a wedge that will help Democrats expand their appeal to nominal (and former) Republicans. Rahm Emanuel, WSJ, 16 May 2021 Investors’ expectations for inflation—as defined by the consumer-price index—over the next 10 years can be gleaned from the difference between nominal and inflation-protected U.S. Treasury yields. Peter Santilli, WSJ, 26 Apr. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nominal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English nominalle, from Medieval Latin nominalis, from Latin, of a name, from nomin-, nomen name — more at name

Noun

derivative of nominal entry 1

First Known Use

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1904, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of nominal was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near nominal

Cite this Entry

“Nominal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nominal. Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

nominal

adjective
nom·​i·​nal
ˈnäm-ən-ᵊl,
ˈnäm-nəl
1
: being such in name or form only
the nominal head of the party
2
: very small : trifling
a nominal price
nominally
adverb

Legal Definition

nominal

adjective
nom·​i·​nal ˈnä-mən-ᵊl How to pronounce nominal (audio)
1
: existing or being something in name or form but usually not in reality
defenses…raised by the corporation as nominal defendant in a derivative suitR. C. Clark
2
: being so small or trivial as to be a mere token
charging a nominal fee
3
of a rate of interest
a
: equal to the annual rate of simple interest that would obtain if interest were not compounded when in fact it is compounded and paid for periods of less than a year
b
: equal to the percentage by which a repaid loan exceeds the principal borrowed with no adjustment made for inflation compare effective sense 4
nominally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on nominal

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