federal

adjective
fed·​er·​al | \ ˈfe-d(ə-)rəl How to pronounce federal (audio) \

Definition of federal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of or constituting a form of government in which power is distributed between a central authority and a number of constituent territorial units
b : of or relating to the central government of a federation as distinguished from the governments of the constituent units
c : formed by a compact between political units that surrender their individual sovereignty to a central authority but retain limited residuary powers of government
2 often capitalized : of, relating to, or loyal to the federal government or the Union armies of the U.S. in the American Civil War
3 capitalized : being or belonging to a style of architecture and decoration current in the U.S. following the American Revolution
4 capitalized : advocating or friendly to the principle of a federal government with strong centralized powers especially : of or relating to the American Federalists
5 archaic : of or relating to a compact or treaty

Federal

noun

Definition of Federal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a supporter of the U.S. government in the Civil War especially : a soldier in the federal armies
2 : fed sense 1 usually used in plural The Federals arrested the smugglers.

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Other Words from federal

Adjective

federally \ ˈfe-​d(ə-​)rə-​lē How to pronounce federally (audio) \ adverb

Examples of federal in a Sentence

Adjective

We pay federal, state, and local taxes. The ruling was overturned by a federal appeals court. furniture made in the Federal style
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Firearm magazines are not regulated by federal law, but some states have set limits on their sizes. Washington Post, "High-capacity magazines get new scrutiny as Congress returns," 3 Sep. 2019 Years ago Walmart imposed age limits and background checks on gun sales that go beyond federal law. Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times, "Walmart’s C.E.O. Steps Into the Gun Debate. Other C.E.O.s Should Follow.," 3 Sep. 2019 Firearm magazines are not regulated by federal law, but some states have set limits on their sizes. Martha Bellisle, The Denver Post, "High-capacity magazines get new scrutiny as Congress returns," 2 Sep. 2019 In 2003, a federal appeals court in San Francisco threw out more than 100 death sentences in Arizona, Montana and Idaho because the inmates had been sent to death row by judges instead of juries. orlandosentinel.com, "Today in history: September 2," 2 Sep. 2019 But a federal appeals court considering the case referred to the Kentucky Supreme Court the key question of whether the relationship between Seven Counties and the state retirement plan is contractual or statutory. Tom Loftus, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky high court rules mental health center can't escape pension costs with bankruptcy," 29 Aug. 2019 The animal is also protected under federal law by the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. Josiah Bates, Time, "Someone Has Killed More Than 40 Wild Burros in a California Desert. There's a $10,000 Reward for the Gunman," 28 Aug. 2019 And now a major shoe has dropped: On Tuesday afternoon, self-driving car engineer Anthony Levandowski was arrested and charged by federal authorities with 33 counts of trade-secret theft, according to a criminal complaint. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Who Owns Lidar?," 28 Aug. 2019 The State’s claims violate fundamental principles of due process by seeking to hold a company liable for conduct permitted under federal law and regulations. Ellen Florian, Fortune, "What the Sackler Offer and the J&J Opioid Verdict Tell Us About the Next Big Test for Drugmakers—an Ohio Trial in October," 27 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'federal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of federal

Adjective

1624, in the meaning defined at sense 5

Noun

1861, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for federal

Adjective

Latin foeder-, foedus compact, league; akin to Latin fidere to trust — more at bide

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Statistics for federal

Last Updated

8 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for federal

The first known use of federal was in 1624

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More Definitions for federal

federal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of federal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to a form of government in which power is shared between a central government and individual states, provinces, etc.
: of or relating to the central government
: of, relating to, or loyal to the federal government during the American Civil War

Federal

noun

English Language Learners Definition of Federal (Entry 2 of 2)

US
: a supporter of the government of the U.S. in the American Civil War especially : a soldier in the federal armies
formal : a federal agent or officer

federal

adjective
fed·​er·​al | \ ˈfe-də-rəl How to pronounce federal (audio) , ˈfe-drəl\

Kids Definition of federal

: relating to a nation formed by the union of several parts

federal

adjective
fed·​er·​al

Legal Definition of federal

1 : of or constituting a form of government in which power is distributed between a central authority and a number of constituent territorial units (as states) a federal government
2 : of or relating to the central government of a federation as distinguished from the governments of the constituent territorial units (as states) especially : of or relating to the laws made and enforced by the federal government a federal crime

Other Words from federal

federally adverb

History and Etymology for federal

Latin foeder-, foedus compact, league

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More from Merriam-Webster on federal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for federal

Spanish Central: Translation of federal

Nglish: Translation of federal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of federal for Arabic Speakers

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