from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Near the margin of a body, organ, or part: submarginal tentacles.
  • adj. Of low productivity; infertile.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Less than, or worse than, marginal. Not meeting even the minimum standard of quality.
  • adj. Below a margin.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In botany and zoology, situated near the margin.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • In the case of the excise tax, submarginal firms and resources leave the taxed industry to be employed somewhere else in the economy.

    Trade Deficit, Saving, and Tax Policy, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • As marginal firms become submarginal and leave the industry, the supply of the goods fall.

    Trade Deficit, Saving, and Tax Policy, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • Too many entrepreneur may enter the software industry and end up bidding profits below zero economic profits causing submarginal businesses to drop out of the industry.

    Roll Over, Ricardo, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • The Resettlement Administration (RA), which eventually became the Farm Security Administration (FSA), stressed "rural rehabilitation" efforts to improve the lifestyle of sharecroppers, tenants, and very poor landowning farmers, and a program to purchase submarginal land owned by poor farmers and resettle them in group farms on land more suitable for efficient farming.

    Dust Bowl

  • For example, in response to the 1930s Dust Bowl in the United States, major policy interventions were introduced, including zoning laws for the most fragile areas, repurchases of submarginal private land, cash payments for leaving land fallow, and farm loans tied to approved land prac­tices.

    Ecosystems and Human Well-being~ Desertification Synthesis~ Key Questions on Desertification in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

  • For example, after I was appointed in charge of the wildlife program of the Ontario Agricultural College (later the University of Guelph), I bought a 100-acre submarginal farm and spent a great deal of my spare time studying wildlife on that property, resulting in publications on the population dynamics of woodchucks and territorial behavior of the white-tailed deer.

    Tributes to Aldo Leopold

  • Like the Bear River cutthroat, the Humboldt cutthroat is highly resistant to replacement by nonnative trout, especially in what would normally be considered submarginal habitat.

    Trout and Salmon of North America

  • In what would be judged to be submarginal trout habitat—warmer, silty streams with late summer flows reduced to a trickle—only the native Bear River cutthroat trout is found, another example of a distinctive biological specialization that characterizes local populations but not the subspecies as a whole.

    Trout and Salmon of North America

  • Thus, in 1820, nearly fifty years after the American Revolution, the Duchess of Sutherland dispossessed 15,000 tenants from 794,000 acres of land, replaced them with 131,000 sheep, and by way of compensation rented her evicted families an average of two acres of submarginal land each.

    The Worldly Philosophers

  • These several groups — the street criminals, the bums, the enfeebled, the tramps, the prostitutes, and others of submarginal status — constituted a true historical underclass, distinct from the lumpenproletariat of migrant workers and immigrant construction gangs.

    The Underclass


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