mar·​shal | \ ˈmär-shəl How to pronounce marshal (audio) \
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
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 How to pronounce marshalling (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from marshal


marshalcy \ ˈmär-​shəl-​sē How to pronounce marshalcy (audio) \ noun
marshalship \ ˈmär-​shəl-​ˌship How to pronounce marshalship (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for marshal

Synonyms: Verb

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

Verb She carefully marshaled her thoughts before answering the question. marshaled their forces for battle
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Inspired by a cousin who worked as a U.S. marshal, Gipson eventually became a police officer in the city of Maywood and then left for a series of jobs working for politicians and unions. Brian Melley, Star Tribune, "55 years after riots, Watts neighborhood still bears scars," 10 Aug. 2020 After years of mounting complaints and calls made to law enforcement and the fire marshal, the Mill Creek Office Building at 4702 FM 1960 W in northwest Houston has met the wrecking ball and was razed last week. David Taylor, Houston Chronicle, "County attorney secures agreement for demolition of dangerous building in northwest Houston," 8 Aug. 2020 The marshal asked if there were any legal impediments that would prohibit the execution. Michael Balsamo, The Denver Post, "One reporter, witness to two executions, haunting last words," 18 July 2020 Eliot sheltered Alexander under the military protection of the provost-marshal and tried to buy his freedom from Hollman. Laurie Maffly-kipp, The New Republic, "The True Story of the Freed Slave Kneeling at Lincoln’s Feet," 1 July 2020 And in the Enquirer's position at the time, Hiram Robinson, a pro-Southern editor at the paper and the federal marshal who headed the Garner's eventual return to Kentucky, had power over Garner's narrative. Sarah Haselhorst, The Enquirer, "Margaret Garner's story has resonated for the past 164 years. It's one she never got to tell," 30 July 2020 Now Pierson was starting for the West and serving as parade marshal in Lubbock. Don Williams, USA TODAY, "When football helped the healing: How Lubbock rallied around a college all-star game," 12 July 2020 Meanwhile, the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District responded to 29 fires late Saturday, all of which were fireworks-related, said fire marshal and PIO Steve Aubert. Tatiana Sanchez,, "Hundreds of 4th of July fires in Bay Area, many from illegal fireworks," 5 July 2020 Oregon’s chief deputy state fire marshal, Mariana Ruiz-Temple, said that well before COVID-19 hit, the state had a plan of action for operations during a pandemic. Special To The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Tribes enter key wildfire time with coronavirus looming large," 2 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb His manufacturing and innovation proposal aims to marshal U.S. resources in what the campaign called the largest domestic investment in procurement and research and development since World War II. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, "Biden proposes $700 billion plan to spur manufacturing, research to create 5 million jobs," 10 July 2020 In recent days, the state has been marshaling additional resources for local health agencies. Sean Campbell, ProPublica, "In Hard-Hit New Jersey, COVID-19 Saddles Some Small Health Departments With Crushing Workload," 22 May 2020 My team is working to identify the populations who are at risk of falling through the cracks of our recovery response and partnering with government and community groups to marshal resources and support. oregonlive, "Portland Commissioner Position 4 candidates explain their plan to help the city recover from the coronavirus pandemic," 26 Apr. 2020 The difference is that (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and these emergency management groups that marshalled resources between Louisiana, Texas, and Florida, are now concerned with the entire county. al, "Coronavirus could be worse for beach businesses than BP oil spill, hurricanes," 2 Apr. 2020 Pritzker and legislative leaders have put the onus on Lightfoot to marshal support for her proposals. Gregory Pratt,, "State lawmakers return for veto session under cloud as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot faces major test of her sway in Springfield," 25 Oct. 2019 The evidence Warren marshalled is now considered misleading at best, and at worst thoroughly debunked. Samuel Hammond, National Review, "Elizabeth Warren’s Anti-Corporate Fixation," 26 Sep. 2019 Several cytokines are responsible for sparking spates of inflammation, the process by which immune forces are marshaled to the site of damage or infection, sometimes leading to swelling, redness, and pain. National Geographic, "A one-two punch to fight COVID-19," 7 May 2020 This is where the HIV community’s expertise in immunology, tracking disease spread, and clinical trials can be marshaled to fight Covid-19. Sarah Wild, Quartz Africa, "South Africa’s leadership in HIV research is galvanizing to tackle coronavirus and develop tests," 2 Apr. 2020

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.

See More

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

Noun and Verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about marshal

Time Traveler for marshal

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about marshal

Statistics for marshal

Last Updated

15 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Marshal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for marshal


How to pronounce marshal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of marshal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an officer of the highest rank in some military forces
US : a federal official who is responsible for doing the things that are ordered by a court of law, finding and capturing criminals, etc.
US : 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 How to pronounce marshal (audio) \

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.
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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on marshal

What made you want to look up marshal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Thing: Animal Edition

  • alt 5a023732e6f75
  • Name that animal:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!