Definition of minimal in English:



  • 1Of a minimum amount, quantity, or degree; negligible.

    ‘the aircraft suffered minimal damage’
    ‘production costs are minimal’
    • ‘As a result, we could preserve and extend the advantages of a free market with a minimal amount of coercion.’
    • ‘The exterior differences were minimal, amounting to some new alloys and revised indicator lamp housings.’
    • ‘He stressed, however, that this easing of restrictions was only minimal.’
    • ‘Despite his minimal knowledge of music, Hoss could tell he was off key and slurring the words.’
    • ‘Within the space of a week, and with minimal amount of application, it is possible to gain a skill of incalculable worth.’
    • ‘It's just a shame that they did not see fit to at least include a minimal amount of this information on the disc.’
    • ‘While I scanned the place, Ryan asked me some questions which I answered with the minimal amount of information.’
    • ‘Budget deficits are also the norm - the tax base is insufficient to cover minimal government spending.’
    • ‘Moreover, the nation has got on well with only a minimal amount of decisive political leadership.’
    • ‘There is a minimal amount of violence and very little blood.’
    • ‘The poorest schools, such as Detroit Public Schools, get this minimal amount.’
    • ‘With a limited budget finding performers willing to travel and perform for a minimal amount proved difficult.’
    • ‘With a minimal amount of research you can make a sound decision on who to do business with.’
    • ‘The kitchen was small and cramped, with minimal counter space and cabinetry.’
    • ‘For a low-budget Indonesian film, preceded by minimal hype, this was nothing short of a triumph.’
    • ‘It can be the backbone of many meals while adding only a minimal amount of fat.’
    • ‘Instead, a year of planning has gone into ensuring the absolute minimal amount of disruption to traffic while the work has been in progress.’
    • ‘On Monday I started myself on a diet where I am eating meat, fruit and vegetables with a minimal amount of carbohydrates.’
    • ‘We also see the band on tour throughout New Zealand and Asia with a minimal amount of live footage.’
    • ‘The worm is spreading modestly and causing only a minimal amount of damage.’
    very little, minimum, the smallest amount of
    slightest, least, least possible, minutest, tiniest, littlest
    nominal, token, negligible, next to no
    View synonyms
  • 2Art
    Characterized by the use of simple forms or structures, especially geometric or massive ones.

    • ‘His career did not take off until the early 1960s, when he turned to sculpture and became one of the leading exponents of minimal art.’
    • ‘Agnes Martin's austerely minimal grid paintings made a profound impression on him.’
    • ‘Although minimal in form, these are some of Kelly's most interesting paintings to date.’
    • ‘In minimal art, it would seem, are the latent possibilities, the alternatives, which are the essence of creation.’
    • ‘In the first two rooms of the gallery, Samson Mudzunga presents a minimal show that somehow suits his enigmatic nature.’
    1. 2.1Characterized by simplicity and lack of adornment or decoration.
      ‘minimal, simple evening dresses in luxurious fabrics’
      • ‘Light and exquisitely crafted and delicate jewellery with smooth curves and floral designs in geometric forms made with minimal metal look and set with tiny crystals have been specially designed.’
      • ‘The minimal cover lines, a minimalist Jason Wu frock, minimalist makeup: all a class act.’
      • ‘But that artist's work was so minimal that Michelangelo was able to fashion a figure, ultimately, of his creation.’
  • 3Music
    Characterized by the repetition and gradual alteration of short phrases.

    • ‘Some of the pieces were minimal phrases, and the players would improvise over it many times.’
    • ‘It is a reminder of how revolutionary their fast, loud and minimal music initially was.’
    • ‘And by the sound of it, he wants the music to stay minimal, yet supremely intense and evocative.’
    • ‘We know where we come from; we know what we like and I love the responsibility of bringing minimal music to new people.’
    • ‘R. Kelly does the vocals for all six characters over minimal music.’
  • 4Linguistics
    (of a pair of forms) distinguished by only one feature.

    ‘‘p’ and ‘b’ are a minimal pair, distinguished by the feature of voicing’
    • ‘a minimal pair in one language or dialect may not be a minimal pair in another one.’
    • ‘In Jamaican Creole, tone is lexical in a few minimal pairs.’


Mid 17th century: from Latin minimus smallest + -al.