One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Economics. A worker who generates profits only just sufficient to balance the costs of his employment.
2Sociology. A man (in generic use, a person) who belongs partly to two differing social groups or cultures but is not fully integrated into either (sometimes with the implication of a capacity to mediate between the two); (in wider use) a person who is isolated from or perceived to be at the edge of a society or a social or cultural group.
Late 19th century; earliest use found in Quarterly Journal of Economics. From marginal + man.
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