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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

1. In economics, the law that a yield rate (i.e., of profits, production, benefits, etc.) will eventually fail 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. The law of diminishing returns kicked in, however, as the overcrowded staff was far less efficient and eventually cost the restaurant more in wages than it was earning.
2. By extension, the idea that any output or results (e.g., of a product, project, organization, etc.) will eventually begin to fail increasing proportionally to additional time, money, skill, or effort. Unfortunately, the show's charm has not lasted, with increasingly zany plots and more characters than one can keep track of. That's just the law of diminishing returns, unfortunately. Schools feel like they have to pile on homework so students meet increasingly high targets for standardized tests, but then you rub up against the law of diminishing returns, because students can only handle so much work before they begin to burn out and perform poorly anyway.
See also: diminish, law, of, 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 ?
The A blood group antigen was present in 26% of women with diminished ovarian reserve and 41% of those with adequate ovarian reserve.
In its opinion, the court of appeals noted that, as a consequence of its decision, insurers might add exclusions to their policies that specifically state that insurers will not pay for diminished value.
In the meantime, Diminished Democracy should be required reading for everyone on Donald Rumsfeld's nation-building team at the Pentagon.
But, please note, that if the bales are heavy but size precludes them from being loaded in such a manner to maximize transportation, the benefit of their density is greatly diminished.
Eisenberg (1995) defined disability as the "status of diminished function, based on anatomic, physiologic, or mental impairment that has reduced the individual's actual or presumed ability to engage in any substantial gainful activity" (p.
This newspaper, though with diminished resources, continues as ever with the same pride and the same dedication, its mandate intact, its independence untarnished.
For example, CD4 T cells show a diminished capacity for responding to recall antigens; cytokine production by these cells is defective and helper function is diminished.
However, in market participants' view, such expectations diminished when the June 20 meeting of the Deputies of the Manila Framework Group and the G-7 Deputies in Tokyo concluded with no new public commitments from Japanese officials.
With the coming of civil society that right may be centralized in the state apparatus, but it neither disappears nor is in any way diminished.
In recent years, the distance separating Churches and ecclesial communities from one another has diminished significantly.
Just as one language is not diminished by other languages, so one faith is not diminished by the existence of other faiths.
The number of religious women in the United States has, like their priestly counterparts, diminished substantially in recent decades.
In the course of the twentieth century, direct references to differences in class, status and gender have diminished or even vanished from the codes and ideals of behaviour and feeling.
If world peace wasn't at hand (and it obviously wasn't), at least the threat of nuclear war had been substantially diminished and perhaps even eliminated altogether.
The legal construct of diminished responsibility (also known as diminished capacity) was introduced into the Singapore Penal Code in 1961.