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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.
A 42-year-old woman with diminished ovarian reserve began taking the supplement without the physicians' knowledge during her IVF treatment.
Since no other countries will soon possess the combination of influence, willingness, and experience needed to guide the WTO process, the diminished leadership capacities of the United States and European Union will be the only ones available.
Over the county's objection, the trial court instructed the jury that, in determining the diminution in fair market value of the remaining acres, they could "consider damages, if any, resulting from unsafe access or diminished market perception of the remainder ..." The jury awarded Santikos $400,000.
"Although speculative, diminished glucocorticoid responsiveness may be a contributor to the disproportionate morbidity and mortality among black asthmatic subjects," Dr.
Meridian Security Insurance Co., the appellate court held that the trial court erred in granting Meridian's motion to dismiss Allgood's claim for damages for failure to pay for diminished value.
Kennedy once said, "(America) was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened." Together, we form a unified body of trust far greater and stronger than any of our adversaries, greater than any gang or common criminal could ever hope to achieve.
Nonetheless, from 1944 to 1970 political exploitation and appropriation of underdeveloped countries greatly diminished. This was a significant political accomplishment, pivoting upon the roles played by the IMF, the World Bank, and the United Nations.
The usefulness of the book for students who are not familiar with the works is thus diminished. The volume is handsomely produced, with plentiful high-quality colorplates and usefully indexed with concepts as well as names.
Depression is marked by a pervasive feeling of sadness, guilt, thoughts of death, dread, and despair, as well as physical symptoms such as a diminished appetite and difficulty with sleep.
A recent CIO magazine report, "The State of the CIO," shows that CIOs' roles within organizations are being diminished. The survey revealed the following:
Lawyers for Ellis's sister, Muriel Jakubait, had asked judges to quash the murder conviction and substitute a verdict of manslaughter on grounds of provocation and/or diminished responsibility.
Unless the electricity is generated from clean, renewable sources such as direct solar, wind power or bit-fuels, the advantages of electric vehicles are diminished proportionally, hybrid electric vehicles that charge their own batteries, like the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius, are unquestionably more efficient than conventional cars and a major step in the right direction.
The TOS group had higher incidences of muscle cramps and spasms; abnormal sensations such as numbness, burning, and paresthesias; loss of strength; diminished sensitivity to stimulus (hypoesthesias); poor coordination; headache; sleep disturbances; and memory loss.
DIMINISHED DEMOCRACY: From Membership to Management in American Civic Life by Theda Skocpol University of Oklahoma Press, $29.95