nom·​i·​nal | \ ˈnä-mə-nᵊl How to pronounce nominal (audio) , 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 How to pronounce nominal (audio) , ˈnäm-nəl \

Definition of nominal (Entry 2 of 2)

: a word or word group functioning as a noun

Other Words from nominal


nominally adverb

Synonyms for nominal

Synonyms: Adjective

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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 trust then maintains ownership of the land, while the homeowner pays for the cost of the structure, plus a nominal ground lease fee for use of the land. Camille Squires, Quartz, 5 May 2022 Admission is free to members; nominal fee to guests. Linda Mcintosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Apr. 2022 Many now see social equity as part of a long line of America’s nominal attempts to achieve justice and parity. Amanda Chicago Lewis, The New Republic, 4 Apr. 2022 The operations were entirely nominal, and the relations between Russian and NASA officials were professional. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 2 Apr. 2022 The nominal central thread involves Carol’s attempts to rebel against studio tyranny and the consequent humiliating downsizing of her part, as the younger, more bankable Krystal’s is beefed up. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 31 Mar. 2022 There’s a nominal improvement for producers and songwriters compared to a decade ago in 2012, when 2.4 percent of the songs’ producers and 11 percent of the songwriters were women, but there was effectively no change for female artists. Ethan Millman, Rolling Stone, 31 Mar. 2022 The request for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 represents 4.2% nominal growth or 1.5% real growth after accounting for inflation compared with the $742 billion final appropriation for this fiscal year, a senior defense official told reporters. Anthony Capaccio,, 28 Mar. 2022 Outside groups like the Republican Governors Association, which has committed to supporting Republican incumbents in primaries, don’t expect McGeachin to put up a serious fight, despite the nominal Trump support. Michael Warren, CNN, 26 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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,, 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 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.

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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Time Traveler for nominal

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near nominal



nominal account

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Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nominal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for nominal


nom·​i·​nal | \ ˈnä-mə-nᵊl How to pronounce nominal (audio) \

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 How to pronounce nominal (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on nominal

Nglish: Translation of nominal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nominal for Arabic Speakers


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