1. An edge and the area immediately adjacent to it; a border. See Synonyms at border.
2. The blank space bordering the written or printed area on a page.
3. A limit in a condition or process, beyond or below which something is no longer possible or acceptable: the margin of reality; has crossed the margin of civilized behavior.
4. An amount allowed beyond what is needed: a small margin of safety. See Synonyms at room.
5. A measure, quantity, or degree of difference: a margin of 500 votes.
a. The minimum return that an enterprise may earn and still pay for itself.
b. The difference between the cost and the selling price of securities or commodities.
c. The difference between the market value of collateral and the face value of a loan.
7. An amount in money, or represented by securities, deposited by a customer with a broker as a provision against loss on transactions made on account.
8. Botany The border of a leaf.
tr.v. mar·gined, mar·gin·ing, mar·gins
1. To provide with a margin.
2. To be a margin to; border.
3. To inscribe or enter in the margin of a page.
a. To add margin to: margin up a brokerage account.
b. To deposit margin for: margin a transaction.
c. To buy or hold (securities) by depositing or adding to a margin.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin margō, margin-; see merg- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.