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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 ?
Notwithstanding the theme of diminishing systemic support, the Swiss banking system continues to benefit from the Swiss banks' stable operating environment and their solid financial base.
CLL 202 -- Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages Executive Course
That is unless the client seeks the 'Bilbao Effect', or tries to erect the largest building in the world, and thereby suspend the law of diminishing architecture.
All services have a point of diminishing returns, at which time they no longer provide additional benefit or the benefit is not worth the cost.
It would also have done something towards diminishing the instincts that seek capital punishment.
Her son is taken away by the authorities, and she is bounced around from institution to institution for the rest of her days, left to wait for, with diminishing patience, her welcome death.
The clay is returned to the green sand system via the black water, diminishing the makeup levels of both new sand and premix (clay, seacoal and additives).
The mathematical drawing--an illustration of the so-called hyperbolic plane--that had so startled Escher offered him a precise, aesthetically pleasing way to depict diminishing figures within a circle.
Instead of viewing this trend as something that undermines their status and authority, enlightened physicians will accept consumer participation in clinical decision-making for what it can do to improve compliance and treatment outcomes while diminishing their exposure to malpractice litigation.
One financial analyst, commenting in a major newspaper in the aftermath of the Emulex press release hoax, referred to Fibre Channel as a "sunset technology." I presume this means a technology that has grown to its maximum and is now diminishing in the face of alternative technology choices.
The labor theory of value doesn't take into account the well-established law of diminishing marginal utility, which states that the value to the customer declines with additional consumption of the good in question.
He attempts to create a percentage pie chart of why the societal disconnect exists, attributing about 10 percent to women in the work force, robbing the community of what had historically been a vital source of voluntarism; about a tenth to suburban sprawl--to community-spread, non-engaging strip malls, and enormous time spent commuting; about 30 percent to the atomizing and fragmenting effects of modern communications, making citizens passive spectators and diminishing, through cable satellite and the Internet, their body of shared information; and the largest portion to generational change, in which each succeeding generation, beginning with those born after World War II, is less involved than their predecessors.
I think it was only seventy intermissionless, unremitting minutes, but rarely can that law of diminishing returns have seemed so diminishing or the returns themselves so diminished.