Definition of marginal in English:


Syllabification: mar·gin·al
Pronunciation: /ˈmärjənl


  • 1Of, relating to, or situated at the edge or margin of something: marginal notes
    More example sentences
    • The White Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean connected with the Barents Sea by a shallow strait.
  • 1.1Of secondary or minor importance; not central: it seems likely to make only a marginal difference a marginal criminal element
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    • Types of work which are now marginal were still important.
    • This could have been the basis of an interesting discussion of how marginal or central such songs were to Finland.
    • In the same way women are central - not marginal - to the process of reproduction.
    slight, small, tiny, minute, insignificant, minimal, negligible
  • 1.2(Of a decision or distinction) very narrow: a marginal offside decision
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    • Any righteous indignation on the part of the Americans at that stage was undermined by replays which suggested the offside decision was marginal.
    • It was tough on Pres Milltown who gave it everything but they just gave St Pats too big a lead and had little luck with marginal decisions.
    • However, to the dismay of the home-support a marginal offside decision went United's way.
    borderline, disputable, questionable, doubtful
  • 1.3Of or relating to water adjacent to the land’s edge or coast: water lilies and marginal aquatics
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    • All dead and yellowing growth should be cleared from marginal plants and water lilies, and submerged aquatics that are getting out of hand should be thinned out.
    • Beware of the razor-edged oyster-shells or the stinging fish (theli meen) in the muddy marginal waters.
    • Keep the hammer down and do not squander the early start behind shrimp boats in marginal water.
  • 1.4(Chiefly of costs or benefits) relating to or resulting from small or unit changes.
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    • In each country, the long-run perfectly competitive equilibrium price equals marginal production cost plus the per unit tax.
    • Thus short-run marginal costing rather than LRMC is the appropriate pricing strategy.
    • Hyundai Motor India has announced a marginal price increase for all its cars across segments to reflect the incidence of Education Cess.
  • 1.5(Of taxation) relating to increases in income.
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    • First of all, as the marginal income tax rate increases, the incentive to work decreases as less and less of one's earnings are actually kept for their own use.
    • But the Minister in the chair should tell us what will happen to that family's effective marginal taxation rate as its income goes a bit higher.
    • Since the tax refund is based on the taxpayer's marginal tax rate, it's prudent in some cases to defer deducting the RRSP contribution.
  • 1.6chiefly British (Of a parliamentary seat) having a small majority and therefore at risk in an election.
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    • Nationally that figures has soared by 500 per cent in marginal seats in the election.
    • Catching these ‘missing voters’ could make a significant difference to the results of elections in marginal seats.
    • Leeds North West, which encompasses Otley, has been targeted by the Liberal Democrats and Tories as a key marginal seat in their election campaigns.
  • 1.7Close to the limit of profitability, especially through difficulty of exploitation: marginal farmland
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    • Farmers originally received grants to plant forests on marginal farmland.
    • He notes that the northern grazing industry has usually been economically marginal, rarely very profitable.
    • Underneath that wide smile, he scares marginal McDonald's store operators with his frankness.


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  • A plant that grows in water adjacent to the edge of land.
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    • However, an important difference is in the shape of the crescentic facets on the proximal edge of the marginals.
    • They correspond to facets for the articulation of two rows of spines along lateral edges of marginals.
    • Whoever made the original choice of plants did a splendid job, leaving us a mix of marginals, surface-leaved and submerged oxygenating plants, all of which I would highly recommend to fellow novice pond keepers.



Pronunciation: /ˌmärjəˈnalətē/
More example sentences
  • They found a way to combine the economic interests of publishers, bookstores, and poets to overcome the financial marginality of serious literature.
  • But he says it is futile to try and start a leftist party out of ‘small groups condemned to marginality.’
  • We associate marginality with self-consciousness, with the possibility of critical distance; the outsider becomes a sociologist.


late 16th century: from medieval Latin marginalis, from margo, margin- (see margin).

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