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de minimis

[ duh -min-uh-mis, dey ]
/ də ˈmɪn ə mɪs, deɪ /
Latin.
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pertaining to minimal or trivial things; small, minor, or insignificant; negligible: De minimis gifts to employees are not subject to taxation.

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Origin of de minimis

First recorded in 1945–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

VOCAB BUILDER

What does de minimis mean?

De minimis means so small or inconsequential as to not be worthy of attention.

De minimis is typically used in a legal context in regard to things that are not important or significant enough to be bound by rules or regulations. It is often used in phrases like de minimis rule or de minimis exemption. Like many other technical legal terms, de minimis comes from Latin.

Example: Amounts that low are considered de minimis, so they don’t need to be reported as taxable income.

Where does de minimis come from?

The first records of de minimis in English come from the late 1700s, but the first records of its use as an adjective come from around the 1940s. It comes from a shortening of the Latin expression de minimis non curat lex, which means “the law does not concern itself with trivial matters.” Mimimis means “small” or “unimportant.” De means “of” or “having the quality of” and is used in other Latin legal terms like de facto and de jure.

From the very beginning, de minimis has been used in a legal context. Today, it is often used in discussion of the idea that the legal system and the courts should not be in the business of handling trivial matters, like prosecuting someone for plucking an apple off their neighbor’s tree. The term de minimis rule often refers to laws that set a certain limit or threshold for something to be punished as a crime, such as the purchase or possession of a minimal amount of illegal drugs.

De minimis is especially used in the context of taxes in regard to amounts that fall under a certain level and do not need to be reported or are not taxed. When used outside of a legal context, de minimis implies that something is too inconsequential to pay attention to or worry about, such as some type of risk. Describing such a risk as de minimis doesn’t mean that the risk doesn’t exist, just that it’s minimal enough that you don’t need to worry about it.

Even though it’s sometimes applied to everyday matters, de minimis still sounds like legalese (unnecessarily complicated legal jargon). For that reason, it’s rarely used in everyday conversation (except by lawyers). It’s much more common to just say trivial, small, minor, inconsequential, or insignificant.

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What are some words that share a root or word element with de minimis

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What are some words that often get used in discussing de minimis?

How is de minimis used in real life?

De mimimis is most likely to be used in the course or discussion of legal or business proceedings. When applied to other things, it’s still most likely to be used by lawyers or other people who are familiar with legal jargon.

 

 

Try using de minimis!

Is de minimis used correctly in the following sentence?

The risk in this case is de minimis—of course there’s always a danger, but it’s a minimal one.

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