[ min-uh-muhm ]
/ ˈmɪn ə məm /
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noun, plural min·i·mums, min·i·ma [min-uh-muh]. /ˈmɪn ə mə/.
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Origin of minimum

First recorded in 1655–65; from Latin, neuter of minimus “smallest, least”; see minor


minimal, minimum
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does minimum mean?

Minimum means the lowest amount or level of something.

Minimum can be a noun or an adjective and it has several more specific meanings, all of which are related in some way to its primary meaning. When minimum is used as a noun, its plural can be minimums or, less commonly, minima.

Example: Take the pie out of the oven and let it cool for a minimum of 30 minutes before serving.

Where does minimum come from?

The first records of minimum come from the mid-1600s. It comes from the Latin word minimus, meaning “smallest” or “least.”

In general, minimum often refers to the smallest possible amount of something that can satisfy a requirement, as in You need a minimum of 10 years of experience to apply for this position. It can also refer to the lowest amount that has been observed, and it is used in related ways in mathematics.

Minimum is also used in more specific ways. In terms of the speed limit, the minimum is the lowest speed that’s allowed on a certain road, especially a highway where going any slower would be dangerous. Some restaurants and clubs set a minimum on the money charged to each customer, meaning that you have to spend at least that amount. Similarly, many stores set a minimum amount you must spend in order to use a credit card. Minimum-wage workers earn the lowest amount that’s allowed by law or some other agreement.

Minimum is often used in the phrases bare minimum, meaning “the absolute least,” and at a minimum, meaning “at least,” as in At a minimum, we need to get five more done before the end of the day.

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What are some other forms related to minimum?

  • minimums (plural)
  • minima (plural)

What are some synonyms for minimum?

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

What are some words that often get used in discussing minimum?


How is minimum used in real life?

Minimum is a common word that’s used in all kinds of ways. It always refers to the lowest amount, which can be negative or positive depending on the context.



Try using minimum!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of minimum?

A. most
B. lowest
C. least
D. smallest

How to use minimum in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for minimum

/ (ˈmɪnɪməm) /

noun plural -mums or -ma (-mə)
the least possible amount, degree, or quantity
the least amount recorded, allowed, or reachedthe minimum in our temperature record this month was 50°
(modifier) being the least possible, recorded, allowed, etcminimum age
maths a value of a function that is less than any neighbouring value
of or relating to a minimum or minimums

Word Origin for minimum

C17: from Latin: smallest thing, from minimus least
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

Scientific definitions for minimum

[ mĭnə-məm ]

Plural minimums minima
The lowest known or lowest possible number, measure, quantity, or degree.
The lowest value of a mathematical function, if it has such a value.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.