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

demob [chiefly British], demobilize

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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

Eventually French authorities agreed to keep an eye on the target for a period of 24 to 48 hours, as Lewin remembers it, but when U.S. marshals arrived, McLaughlin had fled. Dan Greene,, "Flight of the Sole Man," 8 Mar. 2018 Each day, federal marshals will transport them to and from the courthouse. Zolan Kanno-youngs, WSJ, "Trial of ‘El Chapo’ Poses Unprecedented Challenges," 12 Nov. 2018 The 28-year-old man, who worked in landscaping and construction, was charged Tuesday with negligent driving in the deaths in December of FBI agent Carlos Wolf, 36, and Maryland fire marshal Sander Cohen, 33. Fox News, "ICE arrests man in Maryland crash that killed FBI agent, fire marshal," 2 Oct. 2018 There are currently around 2,000 to 3,000 marshals flying on about 5 percent of flights. John Mueller, Vox, "Airline terrorist attacks are extremely rare. It’s one reason TSA’s Quiet Skies program is a waste of money.," 4 Aug. 2018 Ellis has already ordered U.S. marshals to transport Manafort to Alexandria for the trial. Chris Megerian, Anchorage Daily News, "For Paul Manafort, an uncommonly comfortable life behind bars," 12 July 2018 Paul ManafortAlexandria Sheriff's Office The judge held firm and insisted that U.S. marshals make the switch. NBC News, "Paul Manafort sports jailhouse jumpsuit, scruff at new lockup," 12 July 2018 Online court records indicate Mayes was in U.S. marshals' custody and was due to appear in court for a detention hearing Thursday. Todd Richmond,, "Feds charge man with planning to firebomb Wisconsin police station," 6 July 2018 In defending the warrants, prosecutors cited a federal law that authorizes U.S. marshals and certain other federal officers to act as state law enforcement officers. Bob Egelko,, "SF federal judge schools FBI on who can approve search warrants," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Sites like the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn or former steel mills in Gary, Indiana, offer high-visibility examples of how the system works, by identifying the worst of the worst and marshalling resources to repair and rehabilitate. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Booming postindustrial neighborhoods often overlook polluted past," 9 Oct. 2018 Joe Raedle/Getty Images As Republicans tout the supposedly booming economy, progressives have spent most of the summer marshaling a counternarrative of Trump-era wage stagnation. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Trump’s White House says wages are rising more than liberals think," 6 Sep. 2018 Strzok’s colleagues in federal law enforcement said Strzok had a special talent for following leads and marshaling the bureaucratic machinery of the FBI into action. Matt Zapotosky, The Seattle Times, "How anti-Trump texts ruined the career of the FBI’s go-to agent," 14 Aug. 2018 In Europe, leaders are faced with a decision about whether to treat their longtime closest ally, Washington, as an adversary, marshaling their economic might to engage in full-out economic conflict. Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post, "Europe seeks to sweeten Iran deal, considers standing up to U.S. sanctions," 15 May 2018 His list goes on to include fixing up school playgrounds and hospitals — not just in San Francisco, but in Oakland and beyond — reducing income inequality and marshaling the economic power of tech companies like his for the public good. Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle, "Marc Benioff to dedicate Salesforce Tower with speech on civic ‘priorities’," 22 May 2018 He is known less as a superstar deal maker than a strong manager, able to marshal Goldman’s resources behind big initiatives. Joann S. Lublin, WSJ, "Lloyd Blankfein Prepares to Exit Goldman Sachs as Soon as Year’s End," 9 Mar. 2018 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

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

2 Dec 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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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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