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

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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

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

He and a few marshals crawled down into the thick vegetation near the top of the cliff and found the ball. Eddie Pells,, "Francesco Molinari took a wild ride on his last two holes," 14 June 2019 After becoming a fire marshal Bucca investigated the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. James Freeman, WSJ, "U.S. Business Creation Hits Record High," 11 Sep. 2018 Brian Scholl, a deputy fire marshal with the Phoenix Fire Department, said laws regarding fireworks became much simpler after the state Legislature passed a law standardizing their use in Arizona. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "Here's where you can use fireworks in Arizona," 27 June 2019 Perhaps as a way to placate the military hardliners, who may have had misgivings about this person who was supposedly a marshal, yet had not spent any time at all in the military. CBS News, "Transcript: Anna Fifield talks with Michael Morell on "Intelligence Matters"," 19 June 2019 Local fire marshals have also raised concerns that redesigned gates might impede mass exits in emergencies. Phil Matier,, "Fare evasion costing BART a lot, so stopping it a rising priority," 16 June 2019 Baltimore’s Pride will see a combination of police officers as well as private security, medics and fire marshals this weekend, according to Demissew. Juliana Kim,, "'We take security very differently': Baltimore Pride organizers prepare for weekend visitors," 11 June 2019 Some would-be marchers carrying the Jewish Pride flag were blocked by Jewish marshals at an entrance point to the march. Marcy Oster,, "Jewish Pride flags allowed into DC Dyke March after standoff," 11 June 2019 In 1961, a white mob attacked a busload of Freedom Riders in Montgomery, Ala., prompting the federal government to send in US marshals to restore order., "This day in history," 19 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Last month, the Pentagon told the White House to stop politicizing the armed forces while critics accused him of using America’s military as a political prop after marshaling tanks for a Fourth of July celebration in the nation’s capital. Hope Yen,, "Pew poll: Significant majority of U.S. vets think Iraq, Afghanistan wars were not worth fighting," 11 July 2019 The forecast works better and matters more–to insurance companies preparing for disasters, wind-farm owners optimizing their turbines, airlines eager to save fuel, farmers planting crops or retailers marshaling stock. Andrew Blum, Time, "Inside the Weather Wars That May Threaten the Daily Forecast You Depend On," 27 June 2019 San Antonio has marshaled the resources of several of its agencies, including its library, police, fire, library and parks and recreation departments to provide a variety of services, including children’s activities. Lekan Oguntoyinbo, Quartz Africa, "More African migrants are trying to enter the US through the Mexican border," 23 June 2019 As The Oregonian/OregonLive reported, Senate Bill 1045 is the brainchild of Portland developer Homer Williams who has a nonprofit focused on marshaling private sector dollars to help address homelessness. Hillary Borrud | The Oregonian/oregonlive,, "Rental tax break pitched by Portland developer gets first ‘no’ vote," 18 June 2019 Watch any MotoGP weekend and the affable 44-year-old is there, clipboard in hand, whispering advice into Marquez's ear and marshaling the intense activity in the garage around him. Jonathan Hawkins, CNN, "The power behind Marc Marquez's MotoGP throne," 11 June 2019 For much of the past month the director of news at Geo TV, Pakistan’s most popular channel, has marshalled his team of correspondents in the knowledge that broadcasts of their work have been mysteriously cut in most of the country. The Economist, "Pakistan’s most popular television channel is under attack," 19 Apr. 2018 Uber and Lyft plan to marshal their drivers for protests and testimony in Sacramento, as well as petitions and letters to lawmakers. Carolyn Said,, "Uber, Lyft to make wage concessions to keep California drivers contractors," 12 June 2019 In a paper in Nature Reviews Cancer, Dr Greaves has marshalled decades of research into ALL alongside some new lab work, and created a comprehensive theory about its origins. The Economist, "Germ-free children may be more prone to leukaemia," 24 May 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

Noun and Verb

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

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Statistics for marshal

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

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
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.


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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characterized by aphorism

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