federal

1 of 2

adjective

fed·​er·​al ˈfe-d(ə-)rəl How to pronounce federal (audio)
1
a
: 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
federally adverb

Federal

2 of 2

noun

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.

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Local and federal lawmakers are also looking at additional ways to subsidize affordable housing development and to repurpose vacant offices and underused church land for housing. Danny Nguyen, Washington Post, 10 Apr. 2024 Huang says consumer water bills may go up eventually, but the federal government has dedicated billions of dollars for PFAS removal as a first resort. Suzanne Nuyen, NPR, 10 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for federal 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'federal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

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

First Known Use

Adjective

1624, in the meaning defined at sense 5

Noun

1861, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of federal was in 1624

Dictionary Entries Near federal

Cite this Entry

“Federal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/federal. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

federal

1 of 2 adjective
fed·​er·​al ˈfed-(ə-)rəl How to pronounce federal (audio)
1
a
: formed by an agreement between political units that surrender supreme authority to a central authority but keep certain powers
b
: of or being a form of government in which power is distributed between a central authority and individual units
2
often capitalized : of, relating to, or loyal to the U.S. federal government during the American Civil War
federally adverb

Federal

2 of 2 noun
Fed·​er·​al
ˈfed-(ə-)rəl
1
: a supporter of the government of the U.S. in the American Civil War
especially : a soldier in the federal armies
2
: a federal agent or officer

Legal Definition

federal

adjective
fed·​er·​al
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
federally adverb
Etymology

Adjective

Latin foeder-, foedus compact, league

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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