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

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 And in January, U.S. marshals auctioned off $52 million worth of bitcoin, seized from drug dealers. Chris Morris, Fortune, "Authorities Seize $5.2 Million in Cryptocurrency Following Europe's Largest LSD Bust," 28 June 2018 Women also held just 16% of the criminal-investigator jobs, like FBI special agents or deputy U.S. marshals, across the four agencies. Sadie Gurman, WSJ, "Women in Federal Law Enforcement Face a ‘Glass Ceiling’," 26 June 2018 Two weeks later, Debs was walking into a Socialist picnic in Cleveland when U.S. marshals arrested him. Erick Trickey, Smithsonian, "When America’s Most Prominent Socialist Was Jailed for Speaking Out Against World War I," 15 June 2018 NBC News reported that adults subject to the policy would be turned over to U.S. marshals and children would be placed with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Jewel Wicker, Teen Vogue, "An ACLU Challenge to the Trump Administration's Immigrant Family Separation Policy Is Moving Forward," 7 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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

21 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

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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