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date: 26 July 2021


The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms

Chris Baldick


A term coined by S. T. Coleridge to denote material written into the margins of a book or manuscript, these usually being annotations upon the main text within the margins. A notable literary example is the series of exasperated comments written by the poet-artist William Blake in his copy of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, objecting vehemently to the latter’s aesthetic principles. There is no singular form except marginal note. To add marginalia to a text is to marginate it or simply to marginalize (although the latter form is now more often found to mean ‘push something to the margins’, by back-formation from the noun ‘marginalization’). A ‘marginalist’, however, is an adherent of the important school of economic theory known as marginalism. Adjective: marginalic.