Definition of nominal in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈnämən(ə)l/


1(Of a role or status) existing in name only: Thailand retained nominal independence under Japanese military occupation
More example sentences
  • The government plays a nominal role in dictating policy because it cannot monitor local fisheries or enforce fisheries regulations.
  • There are then individuals for whom religion plays only a nominal role in constructing a sense of self and of group membership.
  • It controlled Cuba even after its nominal independence from 1902, and gained sovereignty over the Panama Canal in 1903.
in name only, titular, formal, official;
theoretical, supposed, ostensible, so-called
1.1Relating to or consisting of names.
Example sentences
  • First, check that your name is on the nominal roll.
  • This was made possible by the Department of Veteran's decision to construct a nominal roll of all who served in the Australian Forces during World War Two.
  • A nominal roll of all participants will be included.
1.2 Grammar Relating to, headed by, or having the function of a noun.
Example sentences
  • One tends to think of participants in a process as nominal entities designated by noun phrases.
  • Similar are sentences in which a pronoun or noun phrase with general reference is used instead of the nominal relative clause.
  • It is however a noun and ‘after’ clauses are nominal.
2(Of a price or amount of money) very small; far below the real value or cost: some firms charge only a nominal fee for the service
More example sentences
  • While the charges are nominal at government health establishments, often the cost of the medicine they prescribe is steep, especially for the poor.
  • Office space will be rented out at nominal prices to IT firms.
  • If a nominal charge was introduced to defray the cost, I don't think too many people would complain.
token, symbolic;
tiny, minute, minimal, small, insignificant, trifling
informal minuscule, piddling, piffling
3(Of a quantity or dimension, especially of manufactured articles) stated or expressed but not necessarily corresponding exactly to the real value: legislation allowed variation around the nominal weight (that printed on each packet)
More example sentences
  • All of these are nominal dimensions and we have to remember that there are always some tolerance spreads in brass.
  • Using the Friction Loss Chart as described above, the minimum nominal size of the main line is 3/4 inch.
  • We agree that the road runs straight as it passes through the scene and has a nominal width of around 6 metres.
3.1 Economics (Of a rate or other figure) expressed in terms of a certain amount, without making allowance for changes in real value over time: the nominal exchange rate
More example sentences
  • In spite of the existing low nominal interest rates, the real interest rates in the economy are still high, and also the credit off-take is low.
  • This is borne out by several studies that concur in stating real and nominal rates ‘are leading indicators of future output.’
  • During the transition, inflation would lower real rates; nominal rates would adjust incompletely.
4 informal (Chiefly in the context of space travel) functioning normally or acceptably.
Example sentences
  • Spacecraft operations engineers take control of the satellite after it separates from the launch vehicle up to the time when the satellite is safely positioned in its final nominal orbit.
  • Since injection into orbit the spacecraft's behaviour has been nominal.
  • They are supplying ‘mission control’ with a steady stream of valuable data and all systems are nominal.


Late 15th century (as a term in grammar): from Latin nominalis, from nomen, nomin- 'name'.

Words that rhyme with nominal

abdominal, phenomenal, pronominal

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: nom·i·nal

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