Definition of nominal
2a : of, relating to, or constituting a nameb : 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 yearb : 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>
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.
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.
Origin and Etymology of nominal
Middle English nominalle, from Medieval Latin nominalis, from Latin, of a name, from nomin-, nomen name — more at name
First Known Use: 15th century
Origin and Etymology of nominal
First Known Use: 1904
NOMINAL Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of nominal for English Language Learners
: existing as something in name only : not actual or real
: very small in amount
NOMINAL Defined for Kids
Definition of nominal for Students
1 : existing as something in name only <He was the nominal head of the government.>
2 : very small <There's just a nominal fee.>
Word Root of nominal
The Latin word nomen, meaning “name,” and its form nominis give us the root nomin. Words from the Latin nomen have something to do with names. To nominate is to name someone as a candidate for election or for an honor. Anything nominal, such as a position or office, exists in name only. A noun or pronoun in the nominative case is in the form that names the subject of a sentence, for example the pronoun I.
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 4
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