• synonyms


See more synonyms for marginal on Thesaurus.com
  1. pertaining to a margin.
  2. situated on the border or edge.
  3. at the outer or lower limits; minimal for requirements; almost insufficient: marginal subsistence; marginal ability.
  4. written or printed in the margin of a page: a marginal note.
  5. Sociology. marked by contact with disparate cultures, and acquiring some but not all the traits or values common to any one of them.
  6. Economics.
    1. selling goods at a price that just equals the additional cost of producing the last unit supplied.
    2. of or relating to goods produced and marketed at margin: marginal profits.
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Origin of marginal

First recorded in 1570–80, marginal is from the Medieval Latin word marginālis of, pertaining to an edge. See margin, -al1
Related formsmar·gin·al·i·ty, nounmar·gin·al·ly, adverbin·ter·mar·gi·nal, adjectivesu·per·mar·gin·al, adjectivesu·per·mar·gin·al·ly, adverbtrans·mar·gi·nal, adjectivetrans·mar·gi·nal·ly, adverbun·mar·gin·al, adjectiveun·mar·gin·al·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

negligible, minor, minimal, insignificant, bordering, low, peripheral, small, rimming

Examples from the Web for marginal

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Bunyan says in a marginal note, that by this palace he means the heart.


    James Anthony Froude

  • Paul's marginal note to this is, "Compare Browning's 'Prospice.'"

  • It is a copy of 'Clavigo,' with Herder's marginal suggestions.

    Luttrell Of Arran

    Charles James Lever

  • According to Mr. Howes, there were no marginal imprints of any kind.

  • He assisted her through the marginal underwood and down to the stones.

British Dictionary definitions for marginal


  1. of, in, on, or constituting a margin
  2. close to a limit, esp a lower limitmarginal legal ability
  3. not considered central or important; insignificant, minor, small
  4. economics relating to goods or services produced and sold at the margin of profitabilitymarginal cost
  5. politics, mainly British and NZ of or designating a constituency in which elections tend to be won by small marginsa marginal seat
  6. designating agricultural land on the margin of cultivated zones
  7. economics relating to a small change in something, such as total cost, revenue, or consumer satisfaction
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  1. politics, mainly British and NZ a marginal constituency
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Derived Formsmarginality (ˌmɑːdʒɪˈnælɪtɪ), nounmarginally, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for marginal


1570s, "written on the margin," from Medieval Latin marginalis, from Latin margo (see margin). Sense of "of little effect or importance" first recorded 1887. Related: Marginally.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

marginal in Medicine


  1. Of, relating to, located at, or constituting a margin, a border, or an edge.
  2. Marginally within a lower standard or limit of quality.
  3. Relating to or located at the fringe of consciousness.
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Related formsmar′gin•ali•ty (-jə-nălĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.