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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 result (e.g., of a product, project, organization, etc.) that fails to increase in proportional to additional time, money, skill, or effort spent. 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 failing to increase in proportion to additional time, money, skill, or effort being spent. The show's charm has not lasted, even as more zany plots and characters keep being added. 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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
The diminishment of Arctic ice could lead in coming years to increased commercial shipping on two trans-Arctic sea routes--the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage.
Any pain at a 6 or above on a 0-10 pain scale must be treated medically, he said, or attempts at treating the substance problem will be undermined by a diminishment of therapeutic trust and a lack of "attendance, attention, and intention."
Improving underlying economic fundamentals, the existence of large pent-up demand balances, and the diminishment of economic fiscal cliff uncertainty will combine to result in strong growth rates in 2013 and an increase in cement consumption, according to the latest forecast from the Portland Cement Association (PCA).
And while other commentators are more explicit in linking media diminishment to the wider structural features of capitalism and the international economy, this work succeeds in sounding a ringing vindication for Chomsky and Herman.
At least it didn't lead to any diminishment in his luck, as the course specialist recorded his eighth career win on his 80th start, just seeing off the late surge of unlucky runner-up Mea Parvitas.
As traditional measures of economic progress like GDP are criticized for ignoring downsides including pollution or diminishment of resources such as fresh water or fossil fuels, there has been an increased urgency to arguments for a more balanced and accurate reckoning of costs.
It enables many of the poorest access to first class treatment, lack of which would otherwise mean a dramatic diminishment in one's health, well that or death.
It is the assumed diminishment of funding from Iran and the unlikely prospect of the shortfall being made up from other sources.
The "action" page urges buyers to "pledge a commitment to new habits that can begin to heal our planet in an accelerated manner." One pledge, "sea of love," discourages buying drinks in petroleum-based plastic bottles, using plastic bags or purchasing unsustainable seafood, all of which leave g impacts on the worlds' oceans whether by contributing to floating offshore garbage patches or to the diminishment of species.
The United States has made mistakes that hastened the diminishment of its authority, namely the "expensive defeats" in Iraq and Afghanistan and the financial crisis.
Tannenbaum s diminishment of the recovery model does a particular disservice to those contending with process addictions.
Everywhere else we are seeing diminishment of demand," he said.
The water-holding capacity of the insoluble portion of muscle decreased by up to 58% in the presence of calcium, ostensibly due to the diminishment of pyrophosphate from precipitation.
In his introductory essay Stillman discusses the deep roots of Jews in the Islamic world, the diminishment of the population since the mid-20th century, academic neglect, and the need for this encyclopedia devoted to the "history, languages, literatures, and culture of the Jews from this region and to their contemporary diasporas." This compendium of some 2,100 articles (about half are biographical) spans from the seventh century to 2010; more than half are entries not found in the Encyclopaedia Judaica or other reference works.
The incident ultimately seems to have accelerated the diminishment of role of the revolving Presidency.