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diminishing returns

1. In economics, a yield rate (i.e., of profits, production, benefits, etc.) that fails to grow in proportion to the amount of investment, skill, time, or effort that is added. The restaurant, to combat high volumes of customers, hired a large surplus of wait staff and cooks. This led to diminishing returns, however, as the overcrowded staff was far less efficient and eventually cost the restaurant more in wages than it was earning.
2. By extension, any output or results (e.g., of a product, project, organization, etc.) that fail to increase proportionally to additional time, money, skill, or effort. Unfortunately, the show's charm has not lasted, and the infusion of zanier plots has created diminishing returns in terms of quality.
See also: diminish, return

the law of diminishing returns

used to refer to the point at which the level of profits or benefits to be gained is reduced to less than the amount of money or energy invested.
This expression originated in the early 19th century with reference to the profits from agriculture.
See also: diminish, law, of, return
References in periodicals archive ?
Run by Chris, a qualified nurse, Diminish has been open for five years specialising in permanent hair removal, and has been registered for several years with the Care Quality Commission, The bulk of the clinic''s work is hair removal using both the Plasmalite machine and the additional Chromolite system of intensive pulse light, which has a larger lens to cover a bigger area of the skin.
His administration arguably has failed to diminish terrorism and is certainly unable to contain it--and should also be condemned for augmenting the resolve of terrorists.
In fact, students can see firsthand that, although physical impairments might necessitate adaptations to lifestyle, they need not diminish quality of life.
He described how churches addressed societal needs, and how churches involved themselves with the usual Progressive concerns of temperance, social justice, and the changing business climate, but not in such a way as to diminish the churches' distinctly spiritual orientation.
buyers should insist that smaller vendors have contingencies in place to diminish risk to the buyer.
In addition, their sand systems have seen an increase in green compressive strength and muller efficiencies above the necessary levels, presenting an opportunity to diminish the premix feed rate into the system.
the work of Lanyon, a delightful man and a gentle artist, was used to diminish the achievements of Mark Rothko).
Estee Lauder has just launched its most advanced weapon in the war against the signs of ageing - Diminish Anti-Wrinkle Retinol Treatment.
Prompt mill scrap generation continues "to diminish as yields of finished product from liquid steel improve.
Nortel's Optical Cross Connect DX provides a low- end entry point and a small footprint that reduce CapEx, although its lack of pluggable optics, meshed protection options, and synergy with the HDX diminish its appeal somewhat.
You know, rather than year after year different communities coming in [as] this or that and putting this up for vote and us having to spend millions and millions of shareholder dollars to defend it repeatedly, we felt that this was a way that we could sort of diminish that level.
Water quality experts said this is an aesthetic problem, not a health hazard, and the problem should diminish by Sunday.
If force is used, will it dampen the level of violence and diminish the propensity of those against whom it is used, as well as others, to engage in further aggression?
My personal experience as a father of three children is that the effectiveness of spanking begins to diminish after age six, and is almost entirely ineffective -- except as an unused and unspoken specter -- by age ten.