mar·shal | \ˈmär-shəl \
variants: or less commonly marshall

Definition of marshal 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a high official in the household of a medieval king, prince, or noble originally having charge of the cavalry but later usually in command of the military forces

b : a person who arranges and directs the ceremonial aspects of a gathering a parade marshal

2a : field marshal

b : a general officer of the highest military rank

3a : an officer having charge of prisoners

b(1) : a ministerial (see ministerial sense 3) officer appointed for a judicial district (as of the U.S.) to execute the process of the courts and perform various duties similar to those of a sheriff

(2) : a city law officer entrusted with particular duties

c : the administrative head of a city police department or fire department


variants: or less commonly marshall
marshaled or marshalled; marshaling or marshalling\ˈmärsh-(ə-)liŋ \

Definition of marshal (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to place in proper rank or position marshaling the troops

2 : to bring together and order in an appropriate or effective way marshal arguments marshaled her thoughts before answering the question

3 : to lead ceremoniously or solicitously : usher marshaling her little group of children down the street

intransitive verb

: to take form or order ideas marshaling neatly

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Other Words from marshal


marshalcy \-sē \ noun
marshalship \-ˌship \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for marshal

Synonyms: Verb

mobilize, muster, rally

Antonyms: Verb


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for marshal


order, arrange, marshal, organize, systematize, methodize mean to put persons or things into their proper places in relation to each other. order suggests a straightening out so as to eliminate confusion. ordered her business affairs arrange implies a setting in sequence, relationship, or adjustment. arranged the files numerically marshal suggests gathering and arranging in preparation for a particular operation or effective use. marshaling the facts for argument organize implies arranging so that the whole aggregate works as a unit with each element having a proper function. organized the volunteers into teams systematize implies arranging according to a predetermined scheme. systematized billing procedures methodize suggests imposing an orderly procedure rather than a fixed scheme. methodizes every aspect of daily living

Marshal Has Old German Roots


Although most French words are derived from Latin, a few—among them marshal—are Germanic. In the last centuries of the Roman Empire, the Germanic Franks occupied what is now France and left behind a substantial linguistic legacy, including what became medieval French mareschal. Mareschal came from a Frankish compound noun corresponding to Old High German marahscal, composed of marah, meaning “horse” (Old English mearh, with a feminine form mere, whence English mare), and scalc, meaning “servant” (Old English scealc). The original “marshal” was a servant in charge of horses, but by the time the word was borrowed from French into English in the 14th century it referred primarily to a high royal official.

Examples of marshal in a Sentence


She carefully marshaled her thoughts before answering the question. marshaled their forces for battle

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Investigators believe the blaze began in an electrical panel, according to the state fire marshal’s office. Laura Crimaldi,, "‘He was totally engulfed in flames’: Witnesses recount blaze that injured two Everett firefighters," 14 July 2018 The state fire marshal’s office laid much of the blame for the April 17, 2013, disaster on the fire department’s failure to follow safety standards. Mike Hendricks, kansascity, "Firefighters protect us. Who protects them?," 13 July 2018 There were no injuries and the cause of the fire is under investigation by the South Windsor fire marshal’s office. Peter Marteka, Courant Community, "Fire Damages Shed, Vehicles At RV Dealership," 5 July 2018 Investigators from the state fire marshal’s office, the Chicago Fire Department’s office of fire investigation and the Chicago Police Department are on the scene. Peter Nickeas,, "Adult, child found dead in fire across from Douglas Park," 5 July 2018 At our mandatory pre-cruise evacuation drill, a chipper fire marshal reminds us that even a megaship is only one misplaced cigarette butt from disaster. Michael Ian Black, New York Times, "Cruises Are So Uncool They Are Cool," 3 July 2018 North Carolina fire departments have reported 91 fire deaths to the fire marshal office this year. Julianna Rennie, charlotteobserver, "There have been more NC fire deaths this year than in all of 2017. It's only June.," 25 June 2018 Crews will stay at the warehouse for most of the day to monitor the blaze, according to the fire marshal’s office. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "More than 100 firefighters extinguishing 3-alarm fire at Jersey Village area warehouse," 10 May 2018 Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire, a spokesperson for the fire marshal’s office, said. David Anderson, The Aegis, "Thursday morning house fire in Joppa ruled arson," 11 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Chancellor Angela Merkel said the U.S. runs a trade surplus with Europe when services are included, marshaling a rebuff to President Donald Trump’s sustained criticism of German exports. Arne Delfs,, "Merkel Calls Out Trump, Citing U.S. Services Surplus With Europe," 13 June 2018 They are used to playing with each other and this could help to form a unique chemistry, enabling them to marshal an effective defensive unit., "Why Tottenham Should Move to Sign Colombia Defender Yerry Mina From Barcelona," 12 July 2018 As a result, Trump’s next selection will need to marshal but a simple majority to clear the filibuster. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "Trump amplifying calls to ditch the legislative filibuster as midterms near," 4 July 2018 Compassion Katy is marshaling community support for its expanded Operation Back 2 School program that provides help to students in the Katy Independent School District. Karen Zurawski, Houston Chronicle, "Compassion Katy reaches out to disadvantaged Katy ISD students," 11 July 2018 Uruguay will present much more resistance in the back, with Atletico Madrid's Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez marshaling a stout back line. Avi Creditor,, "World Cup Quarterfinal Power Rankings: Field Narrows to Powers, Surprises," 4 July 2018 But the Supreme Court underscores its ability to counteract the undertow of its deepening, unpopular extremism by marshaling countermajoritiarian power. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "The Republican Court and the Era of Minority Rule," 27 June 2018 Yesterday Howard Keitel was able to marshal the forces and get the War of 1812 guys out. Fox News, "Critics too quick to criticize President Trump on North Korea summit?," 13 June 2018 Another possibility is to marshal community support. San Francisco Chronicle, "federal laws didn’t prohibit discharges into the sanctuary," 2 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'marshal.' 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 marshal


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for marshal


Middle English, from Anglo-French mareschal, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German marahscalc marshal, from marah horse + scalc servant


see marshal entry 1

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Statistics for marshal

Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for marshal

The first known use of marshal was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for marshal



English Language Learners Definition of marshal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an officer of the highest rank in some military forces

: a federal official who is responsible for doing the things that are ordered by a court of law, finding and capturing criminals, etc.

: the head of a division of a police or fire department



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

: to arrange (a group of people, such as soldiers) in an orderly way

: to move or lead (a group of people) in a careful way

: to arrange or prepare (something, such as your thoughts or ideas) in a clear, effective, or organized way


mar·shal | \ˈmär-shəl \

Kids Definition of marshal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person who arranges and directs ceremonies a parade marshal

2 : an officer of the highest rank in some military forces

3 : a federal official having duties similar to those of a sheriff

4 : the head of a division of a city government fire marshal


marshaled or marshalled; marshaling or marshalling

Kids Definition of marshal (Entry 2 of 2)

: to arrange in order marshal troops


mar·shal | \ˈmär-shəl\

Legal Definition of marshal 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a ministerial officer appointed for each judicial district of the U.S. to execute the process of the courts and perform various duties similar to those of a sheriff

2 : a law officer in some cities (as New York) of the U.S. who is entrusted with particular duties (as serving the process of justice of the peace courts)

3 : the administrative head of the police or especially fire department in some cities of the U.S.


transitive verb
variants: also marshall
marshaled also marshalled; marshaling also marshalling

Legal Definition of marshal (Entry 2 of 2)

: to fix the order of (assets) with respect to liability or availability for payment of obligations also : to fix the order of (as liens or remedies) with respect to priority against a debtor's assets — see also marshaling

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Comments on marshal

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one that holds something together

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