nom·​i·​nal | \ ˈnä-mə-nᵊl , ˈnäm-nəl\

Definition of nominal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or being a noun or a word or expression taking a noun construction
2a : of, relating to, or constituting a name
b : bearing the name of a person
3a : 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


nom·​i·​nal | \ ˈnä-mə-nᵊl , ˈnäm-nəl\

Definition of nominal (Entry 2 of 2)

: a word or word group functioning as a noun

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Other Words from nominal


nominally adverb

Synonyms for nominal

Synonyms: Adjective

formal, paper, titular

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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


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Pedro Álvarez, a nominal infielder who is far down their depth chart, was forced into the lineup at third base right before first pitch and hit two home runs. Jon Meoli,, "Behind Gausman, Álvarez's two homers, Orioles take first home series of season, 5-3 over Tigers," 29 Apr. 2018 Like all good films, Halston transcends its nominal subject; the designer’s story is also that of big business versus creatives. Vogue, "Watch an Exclusive Clip of Halston Before Its Sundance Premiere—And Read What the Director and Producer Say About Its Making," 23 Jan. 2019 Another increasingly prominent legal attack dog is Los Angeles lawyer Charles Harder, who famously sued the gossip website Gawker into extinction on behalf of the nominal plaintiff, Hulk Hogan. Ben Widdicombe, Town & Country, "How Much Does It Cost to Keep Your Name Out of the News?," 18 Jan. 2019 Adding 2% inflation, estimated nominal r-star was usually 4% to 4.5%. Alan S. Blinder, WSJ, "The Fed Is Anything but Crazy," 17 Oct. 2018 And all other corporate profits will be taxed at 21%, down from a previous nominal rate of 35%. Josh Hoxie, Fortune, "Commentary: Apple Avoided $40 Billion in Taxes. Now It Wants a Gold Star?," 18 Jan. 2018 The Zuma launch appeared nominal on Sunday night, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "The Zuma satellite appears lost—here’s what we know so far," 9 Jan. 2018 The launch from Kazakhstan—under mostly clear, blue skies—was nominal, and each of the rocket's first, second, and third stages fired normally. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Firefly to the Moon, SpaceX makes a splash, H3 nets a customer," 7 Dec. 2018 Most patients never see the real cost of a drug and have grown accustomed to paying a nominal $30 or so co-pay for many prescriptions. Ben Popken, NBC News, "Bezos, Buffett, and Dimon join up to create independent health care company," 30 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nominal.' 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 nominal


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1904, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for nominal

Adjective and Noun

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

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Statistics for nominal

Last Updated

10 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nominal

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

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More Definitions for nominal



English Language Learners Definition of nominal

: existing as something in name only : not actual or real
: very small in amount


nom·​i·​nal | \ ˈnä-mə-nᵊl \

Kids Definition of nominal

1 : existing as something in name only He was the nominal head of the government.
2 : very small There's just a nominal fee.

Other Words from nominal

nominally adverb


nom·​i·​nal | \ ˈnä-mən-ᵊl \

Legal Definition of nominal

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 suit— R. 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

Other Words from nominal

nominally adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on nominal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nominal

Spanish Central: Translation of nominal

Nglish: Translation of nominal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nominal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on nominal

What made you want to look up nominal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


esteemed in general opinion

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