federal

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

Definition of federal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

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

Finally, in 1971, the anniversary officially became a federal holiday. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "When Is Memorial Day? Here's What You Need to Know About the Observance," 1 Mar. 2019 The high court has twice held that arbitration provisions don’t violate federal securities laws. Hal Scott, WSJ, "The SEC’s Misguided Attack on Shareholder Arbitration," 22 Feb. 2019 The first tax filing season under the new federal tax law is proving to be surprising, confusing — and occasionally frightening — for some Americans, especially those accustomed to getting money back from the government. Sarah Skidmore Sell, The Seattle Times, "I owe how much? Americans shocked by impact of new tax law," 20 Feb. 2019 Thanks to federal and state parity laws, most insurance plans can’t charge a much higher co-pay to see a therapist than to see a doctor like a primary care physician or ob/gyn, the HHS explains. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "7 Ways to Find an Actually Affordable Therapist," 15 Feb. 2019 The order halts the automatic 2.1 percent increase all civilian workers would have received under federal pay laws. Amanda Sakuma, Vox, "Trump orders federal pay freeze for 2019," 30 Dec. 2018 By federal law, the president’s family is protected under the watch of the U.S. Secret Service, which makes sense: The president of the United States is a high-profile public figure, and threats to the well-being of a president's family are real. Kaylen Ralph, Teen Vogue, "Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Are Spending Taxpayer Money on Security for Their Vacations," 14 Dec. 2018 The only way the pipeline could be stopped would be if all states individually strengthened their gun laws at once — or, more realistically, if the federal government passed a law that enforces stricter rules across the US. German Lopez, Vox, "I’ve covered gun violence for years. The solutions aren’t a big mystery.," 14 Feb. 2019 The bill raised the minimum age of all gun purchases from 18 o 21, though federal age for buying shotguns and rifles remains at 18. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "A Year After the Parkland Shooting, Has Anything Really Changed?," 14 Feb. 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 1

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

10 Mar 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

Spanish Central: Translation of federal

Nglish: Translation of federal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of federal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on federal

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