Easily Confused Words: Marginal vs. Managerial

Marginal and managerial are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Marginal (pronounced “marr-juhn-uhl”) is an adjective. It describes something that’s in the edges, aka, “margins,” in a document.

Figuratively, it describes something on the edge of society, a generation, a poll, or another grouping of people.

Managerial (pronounced “man-uh-jeer-ee-uhl”) is an adjective. It describes something relating to a position of authority.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Marjorie was on what’s called a glass cliff. She was promoted to a high position that demanded pulling off the impossible. Outside the company, it appeared she was doomed to failure and becoming another cautionary tale of promise unfulfilled.

The company was failing. Some of those who backed her appointment were presuming she’d experience marginal success at best. Long term, they expected she’d fail and lose her job. Instead, she defied expectations. She made the most of her position, invited input from her peers on how to revive the company. During her tenure, it performed better than ever before.

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