Definition of margin in English:



  • 1The edge or border of something.

    ‘the eastern margin of the Indian Ocean’
    figurative ‘they were forced to live on the margins of society’
    • ‘Taconica, a tectonic highland, formed along the margin of eastern North America.’
    • ‘They are now struggling in the margins of Indian society and live in appalling poverty.’
    • ‘It is not known at present how extensive this phenomenon is along the western margin of the North Sea, or the eastern margin of the Atlantic.’
    • ‘The study area is near the southern margin of the coal field, a structural boundary, not an erosional edge of the palaeoswamp.’
    • ‘Because Australia has a broad continental shelf it lobbied to have this zone extend to the outer edge of the margin.’
    • ‘As a people living at the margin of society, we were some of the first to be hit by globalisation.’
    • ‘She founded Kids Company in December 1995, hoping to reach not only vulnerable children in schools but also those excluded and on the margins of society.’
    • ‘In plan-form the dune has an irregular outline but the eastern margin is more complex and irregular than the western edge.’
    • ‘The Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are both parts of the active plate-boundary network, forming the eastern margin of the African plate.’
    • ‘The meandering blue outlines of the river Yamuna, painted along the eastern margin of the map, makes the city picturesque.’
    • ‘They emerge from the cinders to feed and mate when the sun has warmed the rock surfaces, particularly at the margins of snow fields.’
    • ‘They are now estranged from society by living on the margins.’
    • ‘However, sediment drifts mantle the western margins, and slope fans locally encroach onto the rise of the eastern margin.’
    • ‘The convergence point marks a plume centre and possible breakup of a continental fragment from the eastern margin of the Superior Province.’
    • ‘Representation is confined to a margin between two color fields, which reads as the boundary between earth and sky.’
    • ‘If the trailing edge of the pedal disk lags behind the leading edge, the trailing margin of the pedal disk will be stretched.’
    • ‘Many are forced to leave their families and lead a precarious existence living on the margins of society.’
    • ‘Sediment supply from the eastern margin and from intrabasinal highs was locally important.’
    • ‘This volcanism seemingly developed in an extensional setting near a shelf margin located in the eastern Neptune Range.’
    • ‘The Andes form a barrier to the eastern margin of the South Pacific anticyclone.’
    edge, side, bank, verge, border, perimeter, brink, brim, rim, fringe, boundary, limits, periphery, bound, extremity
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    1. 1.1The blank border on each side of the print on a page.
      • ‘At the end, in the margin, small red notations caught Mallory's eye.’
      • ‘The increased readability that results from these design changes is further enhanced by a bigger page size and wider margins.’
      • ‘The best scholarship applications adhere to specifications for margins, spacing, font size, and length.’
      • ‘The printer's advantage is that it can print without margins - making the pictures print out exactly like photos.’
      • ‘Ever since then, I was always doodling in the margins of my papers or in spare notebooks.’
      • ‘We dealt with that complaint by changing the page margins to get the total length down to where they wanted it without removing any text.’
      • ‘Folding down the corners of pages, scribbling in margins and breaking the spines of paperbacks are signs of a barbarian.’
      • ‘This is fairly easy to accomplish by defining a bounding rectangle for the text that is the same width as the space between the page margins.’
      • ‘Any reference to work in the body of the text is usefully indexed with a page number in the margin directing the reader to further pictures.’
      • ‘A further dimension is added to the poem by a Scriptural place given in the page margin.’
      • ‘There are wide margins, only 29 lines to the page, and the print is, at a guess, 12 point.’
      • ‘All I wanted was a two column template, centered, with wide margins on each side.’
      • ‘In the documents of the last volume, drawn from the imperial court, you can read the Emperor's notations down the margins.’
      • ‘Some have holes punched in the margin so they can be kept in three-ring binders.’
      • ‘From then on the publisher is also mentioned - usually in the form of a seal on the print margin.’
      • ‘A large space was left in the margin of the page for recording place of sleep, position of sleep and behaviour of the infant when awake.’
      • ‘You might find quite a few prints with the left margin trimmed, thus making an identification by date impossible.’
      • ‘Answer using no more than six letters, a hand gesture, and the doodling space in the margins.’
      • ‘The holes are far greater than the space in this book given over to noticeably wide margins and blank space.’
      • ‘The most readable proposals have text running 4 inches or less across the page with graphics in the side margins or within the text.’
    2. 1.2A line ruled on paper to mark off a margin.
      • ‘How many still do, and still print the little black margins around their images to inform the viewer of their exacting practice?’
      • ‘You'd have to think about whether it's written in green ink, how steady or efficient or loopy or shaky or spidery is the handwriting, and whether it's written up to the margins and in tiny writing.’
      • ‘Students first draw a 2-inch margin around the edge of the paper, and then position the projected image on the paper.’
      • ‘The children began in earnest by first drawing a neat margin on the chart paper they were provided with.’
      • ‘The children began in right earnest by first drawing a neat margin on the chart paper they were provided with.’
      • ‘At once I feel like I'm back at high school and I've been caught drawing margins without a ruler.’
  • 2An amount by which a thing is won or falls short.

    ‘they won by a convincing 17-point margin’
    • ‘The number one search and traffic area on that site was staff pages by a large margin.’
    • ‘Variety reports that the California court of appeal voted to uphold the earlier ruling by a margin of 2-1.’
    • ‘The margin at the finish line was six seconds, but the leaders had slowed in the last 100m.’
    • ‘It was a workmanlike second half from Carlow, but the margin reflected the gap between the divisions.’
    • ‘Bernadette shot a fine birdie at the 19th to get a hole back and the margin was down to one when Ann bogeyed the 3rd and 7th.’
    • ‘Mark had a fantastic run of form scoring net 66, 69 and 67 on the last day, to lead the field by a large margin.’
    • ‘Great Britain lost the next two Tests as well, by similarly narrow margins.’
    • ‘Whether the Airforce are led by a large margin or not, he is there on the touch line offering them encouragement.’
    • ‘The home side were literally outplayed and outclassed by a rampant Crystal side who were by no means flattered by the extent of their winning margin.’
    • ‘They finished with a winning margin of fine points.’
    • ‘The senior hurlers have had a number of competitive performances, losing by very narrow margins.’
    • ‘Conor appeared to have won the bout but lost on the narrowest of margins.’
    • ‘It was a frustrating loss for the Eagles, who let a third quarter time lead evaporate and have now lost their opening two games by margins of less than two goals.’
    • ‘In the relays Appleby's combinations were too strong for Troutbeck, but they could not overhaul the home side's winning margin.’
    • ‘Rather, he is ensuring that the principle of one-man-one-vote holds good, even if it comes down to the narrowest of margins.’
    • ‘The candidates' agents agreed to a recount of ballot paper bundles because the margin between Mr Grogan and Mr Menzies was less than 500.’
    • ‘That one point margin again separated the sides at the final whistle as two evenly matched teams shared 10 second-half points.’
    • ‘But the stewards ruled that the interference had not affected the result, arguably not an easy call given the margins at the line of just a neck and half a length.’
    • ‘Amazingly the conversion was missed to leave Newbridge still ahead by the narrowest of margins at six points to five.’
    • ‘Now one thing that might work in his advantage in California is there's an even more lopsided margin on the Democratic side.’
    gap, majority, amount, difference, degree of difference, measure of difference
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    1. 2.1An amount of something included so as to be sure of success or safety.
      ‘there was no margin for error’
      • ‘The Pesticide Residues Committee says that most of the contamination should not damage health because of the large safety margins.’
      • ‘Be sure your available runway length provides an adequate margin for safety.’
      • ‘I've read them, I know what they say, I know how they derived the projections, and I know the margin for error.’
      • ‘The risk caused by speeding on one occasion may be small, but the margin of safety is being reduced.’
      • ‘At one point on Wednesday, my margin of safety was down to four miles and I was forced to spend the whole day at the oars to avoid making an impromptu landfall.’
      • ‘I think that a country that is that small does not have a big margin for error.’
      • ‘Without them the margin for error has been reduced.’
      • ‘With the number of states within the margin for error, that three percent could matter.’
      • ‘Yet the margin for error in this scenario is not infinite.’
      • ‘So margins of safety naturally get built into task time estimates.’
      • ‘The high number of gear changes and the tiny margin for error inevitably leads to a very high attrition rate among the cars, and it is highly likely that less than half of the starters will finish.’
      • ‘In fact, one of the roots of my concern is that nobody will know for sure when the safety margin has been eroded too far.’
      • ‘The trouble is, of course, this doesn't happen by accident at all, and the margin for error is huge.’
      • ‘Workers are on a roll now and have been dominant over all sides despite the narrow margins involved at times.’
      • ‘Most of the residues were below the maximum levels set by the government, which had large safety margins, they pointed out.’
      • ‘At the top end of the Premier Division, the margin for error is tiny.’
      • ‘Because oxygen increases the margin of safety, climbing without it might increase the death rate.’
      • ‘And when borrowing ensure that a hefty margin of safety is built in to the amount that you can repay.’
      • ‘Protein recommendations for athletes are commonly expressed in a range to include a safety margin.’
      • ‘But with the throttle screwed on, there is only the barest margin, and no room at all for mistakes.’
    2. 2.2The lower limit of possibility, success, etc.
      ‘the lighting is considerably brighter than before but is still at the margins of acceptability’
      • ‘It is also just about possible, but only at the margins of plausibility, that the apostrophe inserted into Finnegans Wake is a deliberate mistake.’
      • ‘Desire and jealousy flourish at the margin of what is knowable, just beyond the limits of what Pandosto can see.’
      • ‘Even without the threat of war, an operation of this size presses at the margins of possibility.’
      • ‘Yet the fact that he's about to shoot a new feature in colour with Bill Murray and other prominent stars also suggests he's willing to push the limits of those margins.’
      • ‘It can explore the margins and limits of the text and of classical theatre, and in the process demystify, even kill the text and the author and his authority.’
    3. 2.3A profit margin.
      • ‘Caught in the middle of this war is the food processor, facing increasing pressure to deliver quality goods on paper thin margins.’
      • ‘I accept the margins in farming are tight and profits are well down but trying to balance the books at the expense of asylum seekers is not acceptable.’
      • ‘Borrowers and savers are losing out as banks and building societies boost their margins.’
      • ‘Here, distribution may be limited to a small number of intermediaries who gain better margins and exclusivity.’
      • ‘Chinese demand is growing at an unprecedented rate, and refineries are near capacity with healthy margins.’
      • ‘We've been working our little cotton socks off to source our chart albums within the EU at the lowest possible price and cutting our margins even more.’
      • ‘If he can get the product right, the M&S boss should be able to edge margins up.’
      • ‘It works, and it greatly increases your chance for success, but it limits your margins.’
      • ‘At the same time, the IRA said, the firms are passing on their increased costs to consumers and increasing their own margins and profits.’
      • ‘It means good margins and possibly a reputation for beer selection that will draw customers from a larger area.’
      • ‘The producer's expectation is to realize at least a maximized lower-level confidence limit of gross margin.’
      • ‘He said price cuts of this magnitude have already wiped out any possibility of a margin on grazing cattle this summer.’
      • ‘The problem is that the amount of handholding an average end-user needs in buying a computer exceeds the margin you could possibly make on selling it.’
      • ‘Generally thin starting margins suggest little room for manoeuvre on profits when the unexpected happens.’
      • ‘There could be some pleasant news with respect to operating profits as revenues continue to grow and margins increase.’
      • ‘It has the highest margins and the best returns in its sector.’
      • ‘It also expects its loss to shrink - we'd hope so, given those margins - to $2 million and possibly even to zero.’
      • ‘The company also said it would diversify its copper product range to boost product margin.’
      • ‘What's more, many banks sneakily use base-rate changes to increase their margins and profits.’
      • ‘So the cost of production & selling must be as low as possible because of the slim margin.’
    4. 2.4Finance
      A sum deposited with a broker to cover the risk of loss on a transaction or account.
      • ‘Buying options outright typically does not require any deposit of margin because the maximum risk is what you pay for the option.’
      • ‘Most brokers ask for double the margin amount you deposit.’
      • ‘Let's say you have a margin account, and your position takes a dive before rebounding to all-time highs.’
      • ‘Finally, in unusual circumstances such as extreme market volatility, SIMEX may require a broker to deposit additional margin.’
      • ‘It can fairly be said that those calls reveal that before the first margin call was made the plaintiff did not understand the risks of a margin account.’


  • 1Provide with an edge or border.

    ‘its leaves are margined with yellow’
    • ‘The long lasting floral bunches with sparkling waxy bracts in different shades of pink, and the yellow margined red corolla are best suited for cut flowers.’
    • ‘We watched a yellow margined triggerfish as it scoured the seabed below.’
    • ‘From your scoring you will determine the proportion of entire margined leaf species.’
    • ‘Ilex aquifolium ‘Ferox Argentea’: called the hedgehog holly, this is a non-berrying male holly with exceptionally spiky dark green leaves, margined with cream.’
    • ‘Forty-four percent of smooth margined lesions were malignant in one study.’
    1. 1.1archaic Annotate or summarize (a text) in the margins.
  • 2Deposit an amount of money with a broker as security for (an account or transaction)

    ‘a margined transaction’
    • ‘One must be very careful about margined accounts.’
    • ‘He is aware of the risks involved in margined trading and that the entire amount of his deposit could be at risk.’
    • ‘As I mentioned above, the margining system used by the futures options exchanges provides a special advantage of allowing Treasury bills to be margined.’
    • ‘For instance, if you had $100,000 in your account margined 20 times, your actual investment would be $2m.’
    • ‘Since the funds to exercise the options and pay the taxes due were provided by margining the stock in Brokerage House Corp.'s Option Financing Program, Mr. Worker was told that he would have no money out of his pocket.’
    • ‘This was on top of the conventional funding in yen which BFS received through the operation of the margining mechanism I have described above.’
    • ‘This created a highly margined, over-concentrated portfolio that was not suitable considering Mr. Worker's financial situation or goals.’


  • margin of error

    • An amount (usually small) that is allowed for in case of miscalculation or change of circumstances.

      • ‘In a truly scientific survey, the margin of error will be very low.’
      • ‘Okay, but this poll has a margin of error of plus or minus three points.’
      • ‘Each guess was outside the margin of error of the other.’
      • ‘That's a large target area, and it allows for a margin of error when a shot must be taken from odd angles.’
      • ‘Even if shareholders are prepared to give Holmes the benefit of another few quarters' grace, he has an extremely small margin of error.’
      • ‘So Bustamante has a three-point lead in a poll with a five-point margin of error.’
      • ‘That's two or three percentage point difference, which can be well within the margin of error.’
      • ‘A margin of error is allowed in the exercise of discretion.’
      • ‘That, basically, is a statistical tie for first, because that's within the margin of error.’
      • ‘What is the margin of error around those city-level survey estimates?’


Late Middle English: from Latin margo, margin- edge.