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

1570–80; < Medieval Latin marginālis of, pertaining to an edge. See margin, -al1

marginality, noun
marginally, adverb
intermarginal, adjective
supermarginal, adjective
supermarginally, adverb
transmarginal, adjective
transmarginally, adverb
unmarginal, adjective
unmarginally, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
marginal (ˈmɑːdʒɪnəl)
1.  of, in, on, or constituting a margin
2.  close to a limit, esp a lower limit: marginal 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 profitability: marginal cost
5.  chiefly (Brit), (NZ) politics of or designating a constituency in which elections tend to be won by small margins: a 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
8.  chiefly (Brit), (NZ) politics a marginal constituency

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

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

1929, from marginal + -ity.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

marginal mar·gin·al (mär'jə-nəl)

  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.

mar'gin·al'i·ty (-jə-nāl'ĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang Dictionary


adj. [common]
1. [techspeak] An extremely small change. "A marginal increase in core can decrease GC time drastically." In everyday terms, this means that it is a lot easier to clean off your desk if you have a spare place to put some of the junk while you sort through it.
2. Of little merit. "This proposed new feature seems rather marginal to me."
3. Of extremely small probability of winning. "The power supply was rather marginal anyway; no wonder it fried."
Example sentences
Increasingly, that pride mingles with a recognition of the discomfort of marginality.
The alternative explanations examined focused on trends in the economic marginality of females and trends in formal policing.
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