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

Antonyms: Verb

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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

Verb She carefully marshaled her thoughts before answering the question. marshaled their forces for battle
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Antonio Garcia was arrested Friday by U.S. marshals in Los Angeles and faces a murder charge, said Arlington police Lt. Loyd Brumfield, Dallas News, "Suspect in slaying of Arlington man arrested in Los Angeles," 25 Jan. 2020 Pugh, who has been in seclusion since early April, is expected to surrender to US marshals ahead of her arraignment Thursday in Baltimore., "Ex-Baltimore mayor charged in ‘Healthy Holly’ book scandal - The Boston Globe," 21 Nov. 2019 Pugh, who has been in seclusion since early April, is expected to surrender to U.S. marshals before an initial appearance and arraignment Thursday before U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow in Baltimore. CBS News, "Former Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh faces fraud and tax charges over children's book scandal," 20 Nov. 2019 After the collision Prost had jumped out of the car, but Senna stayed in the cockpit, frantically waving to the marshals to push him back into the fray. Sarah Holt, CNN, "Japanese GP: Driven by emotion, Senna and Prost collide at Suzuka," 10 Oct. 2019 Levandowski pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Tuesday in San Jose after surrendering to U.S. marshals earlier in the morning. Evan Sernoffsky,, "Engineer charged with stealing Google’s self-driving car secrets," 27 Aug. 2019 Warren was arrested in San Francisco, while Lathem surrendered to U.S. marshals at the federal courthouse in Oakland. Megan Crepeau,, "British citizen pleads guilty to sex-fantasy killing, agrees to testify against former Northwestern University professor," 22 July 2019 The judge offered to consider the possibility of briefly releasing Payne after his sentencing and having him surrender to the U.S. marshals later in the day, and that arrangement might provide the same benefits. Maxine Bernstein,, "Refuge occupier Ryan Payne to remain in custody, pending sentencing," 1 Feb. 2018 Once on the ground, the evacuees will be under guard by federal marshals, who will patrol a fenced perimeter around the hotel where they will be housed. Sig Christenson,, "Coronavirus passengers land in San Antonio," 7 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Even so, Patrizia Ciofi and Dietrich Henschel gave vibrant, nuanced performances of the lead roles, and the composer-conductor Johannes Kalitzke marshalled an opulently raging orchestra. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "Opera Against the Patriarchy," 30 Dec. 2019 The Minnesota senator marshaled persuasive social science evidence in defense of the bill. Michelle Adams, The New Republic, "The Integration Success Stories," 23 Aug. 2019 An ability to marshal resources and initiate massive undertakings has often been viewed as one of the few advantages of an authoritarian regime. Jiayang Fan, The New Yorker, "What It’s Like to Try to Get Treatment for the Coronavirus in China," 28 Jan. 2020 In Massachusetts, city and state officials marshalled considerable resources to bring the Pawtucket Red Sox to Worcester, offering the soon-to-be WooSox one of the most generous relocation packages in local history., "Think of it as the Tale of Two Stadiums.," 5 Dec. 2019 Now, federal prosecutors are once again working closely with state and local law enforcement and all of the community leaders to marshal our resources, target crime in the most dangerous areas, and lock up violent offenders., "Read the official transcript of President Trump’s remarks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in Chicago," 28 Oct. 2019 Increased societal incomes allowed British society to marshal the resources needed to invest in, for example, large scale public sanitation infrastructure. Nimi Hoffman, Quartz Africa, "The problem with economists using randomized trials in developing countries," 11 Dec. 2019 Together with them and others, Salka marshaled her powerful friends to offer affidavits guaranteeing financial support to new emigrants; among those who contributed were Dorothy Parker and Herman Mankiewicz. Ruth Franklin, Harper's magazine, "Salka the Salonnière," 6 Jan. 2020 While there is some merit within the book, the authors often do not marshal enough evidence to support their claims. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "What if the foundational theories about how to run a company have been corrupted?," 9 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for marshal

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for marshal

Last Updated

25 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Marshal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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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

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