AskDefine | Define marginal

Dictionary Definition

marginal adj
1 at or constituting a border or edge; "the marginal strip of beach" [syn: fringy]
2 of questionable or minimal quality; "borderline grades"; "marginal writing ability" [syn: borderline]
3 of a bare living gained by great labor; "the sharecropper's hardscrabble life"; "a marginal existence" [syn: hardscrabble]
4 just barely adequate or within a lower limit; "a bare majority"; "a marginal victory" [syn: bare(a)]
5 producing at a rate that barely covers production costs; "marginal industries"; "marginal land"
6 of something or someone close to a lower limit or lower class; "marginal abilities"

User Contributed Dictionary



  • a UK /ˈmɑː(ɹ)ˌdʒɪn.əl/ /"mA:(r)%dZIn.@l/


  1. of, relating to, or located at a margin or an edge
    • The marginal area at the edge of the salt-marsh has its own plants
  2. geographically adjacent
    • Monmouthshire is a Welsh county marginal to England
  3. written in the margin of a book
    • There were more marginal notes than text
  4. at the lower extent of a standard
    • His writing ability was marginal at best
  5. of land that is barely productive
    • He farmed his marginal land with difficulty
  6. In the context of "mostly|UK|Australia": of an electoral district (such as a parliamentary constituency) where the winning margin was a small proportion of the total number of votes, so that only a small change in voting behaviour is necessary to alter the outcome of an election.
    • In Bristol West, Labour had a majority of only 1,000 so is highly marginal this time

Related terms



Extensive Definition

The word marginal can refer to several things:

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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