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mar·​shal ˈmär-shəl How to pronounce marshal (audio)
variants or less commonly marshall
: 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
: a person who arranges and directs the ceremonial aspects of a gathering
a parade marshal
: a general officer of the highest military rank
: an officer having charge of prisoners
: 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
: a city law officer entrusted with particular duties
: the administrative head of a city police department or fire department
marshalcy noun
marshalship noun


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variants or less commonly marshall
marshaled or marshalled; marshaling or marshalling ˈmärsh-(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce marshal (audio)

transitive verb

: to place in proper rank or position
marshaling the troops
: to bring together and order in an appropriate or effective way
marshal arguments
marshaled her thoughts before answering the question
: 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

Did you know?

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.

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

Examples of marshal in a Sentence

Verb She carefully marshaled her thoughts before answering the question. marshaled their forces for battle
Recent Examples on the Web
An armed man impersonating a U.S. marshal was arrested and taken into custody at a campaign event for Democratic presidential contender Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed Saturday. Sarah Ellison,, 16 Sep. 2023 The roof was small, and quickly filled beyond what any fire marshal would likely consider safe. Maura Judkis, Washington Post, 12 Sep. 2023 General fund staffing additions include a risk manager, a deputy city marshal and a McKinney Performing Arts Center and Main Street Program coordinator. Haeven Gibbons, Dallas News, 6 Sep. 2023 And some just kind of marshal right through it all. Amy Bushatz, Anchorage Daily News, 2 Sep. 2023 That’s when Brown was trying to keep the Mar talk, the marshals out of canceling it nationally. Laura Johnston, cleveland, 30 Aug. 2023 Lawmen: Bass Reeves is based on the real-life story of Bass Reeves, who was born into slavery in 1838 before gaining his freedom and becoming the first Black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi River. Temi Adebowale, Men's Health, 28 Aug. 2023 Only three locations can train school marshals: Tarrant County College, the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service and the West Central Texas Council of Governments. Sonia Rao, Dallas News, 3 Aug. 2023 Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said a 15-year-old boy was apprehended by U.S. marshals on Tuesday. Molly Walsh |, cleveland, 1 Aug. 2023
Ballet had already taught her how to marshal control over her gestures, to smooth over her pain for the sake of appearance. Hannah Zeavin, The New Yorker, 14 Sep. 2023 Sources familiar with the outreach emphasize that there’s been no ultimatums nor threats to break with the impressive solidarity that the WGA West and WGA East have marshaled since the strike began May 2. Cynthia Littleton, Variety, 8 Sep. 2023 His job is to dream the future, and then to marshal the city’s gargantuan bureaucracy to get those dreams built. Christopher Maag, New York Times, 6 Sep. 2023 As a result barricades remained in place around Lahaina town, Maui County officials said in a statement, adding that police officers had been marshaling people away from unsafe areas. NBC News, 12 Aug. 2023 Resources are being marshaled to help those who made the expensive pilgrimage to the playa. Elvia Limón, Los Angeles Times, 5 Sep. 2023 So much energy and effort has gone in to navigating the movie’s treacherous obstacle course and marshaling the troops that someone seems to have forgotten that a comprehensible story would be needed to tie all of it together, and this is where Medusa Deluxe starts to turn to stone. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 9 Aug. 2023 Yet a unified Western policy on Putin, or rather on the need for his removal, is essential for marshaling the material support Ukraine needs to win a decisive victory on the battlefield. Samuel Charap, Foreign Affairs, 13 July 2023 Pat Robertson, a Baptist minister with a passion for politics who marshaled Christian conservatives into a powerful constituency that helped Republicans capture both houses of Congress in 1994, died on Thursday at his home in Virginia Beach, Va. Douglas Martin, New York Times, 8 June 2023 See More

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

Word History


Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use


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


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

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


Dictionary Entries Near marshal

Cite this Entry

“Marshal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
mar·​shal ˈmär-shəl How to pronounce marshal (audio)
: a high official in a royal household in the Middle Ages
: a person who arranges and directs ceremonies or parades
: an officer of the highest rank in some military forces
: a federal official having duties similar to those of a sheriff
: the head of a division of a city government
fire marshal


2 of 2 verb
marshaled or marshalled; marshaling or marshalling
: to arrange in order
marshal troops
: to lead with ceremony : usher
marshaling the group of children down the street


Middle English marshal "a high officer in the king's household," from early French mareschal (same meaning), literally "horse servant"; of Germanic origin

Word Origin
Although most French words come from Latin, some are the result of the Germanic occupation of France in the third century a.d. In early French the word mareschal, literally meaning "horse servant," was such a word. By the Middle English period, a mareschal in French was a high royal official. English borrowed the word to name a similar position in England. Much later, marshal was used in England as the title of a high-ranking military officer. It is because of this use that many people think the word is related to the word martial, meaning "relating to military affairs." But martial derives from the Latin name Mars, the god of war. It is only an accident that these two words came to be linked many centuries after they had entered English from different languages.

Legal Definition


1 of 2 noun
: 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
: 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)
: the administrative head of the police or especially fire department in some cities of the U.S.


2 of 2 transitive verb
variants also marshall
marshaled also marshalled; marshaling also marshalling
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on marshal

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