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 Ng is a certified trainer for active shooter and advanced law enforcement rapid response, and a special federal deputy marshal with the U.S. Secret Service. Scott Huddleston,, "Sheriff faces seven challengers as he seeks a second term, which San Antonio voters haven’t granted in a decade," 27 Feb. 2020 The mutual attraction between a federal marshal and an escaped convict interferes with their goals. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019," 22 Sep. 2019 In addition to citizen and immigration services, the complex houses bankruptcy court, the U.S. District Court for the state of Connecticut and the offices of federal marshals and probation. Kenneth R. Gosselin,, "Downtown Hartford in line for new federal courthouse, replacing outdated space in Ribicoff building," 19 July 2019 Called the Celestiq, the big Cadillac sedan will be hand-built in small numbers in the Detroit area as GM marshals its resources to get a fleet of revolutionary vehicles on the road by 2025. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "Everything we know about GM’s 11 wild new electric vehicles," 5 Mar. 2020 Among its problems: failing a state fire marshal’s inspection, inadequate water supplies, inmate escapes, mold, cleanliness. USA TODAY, "Ollie the camel, cactus-juice walls, Can-Am Crown: News from around our 50 states," 2 Mar. 2020 President Barack Obama had nominated Carr for the marshal position in April 2010. Cathy Kozlowicz, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Trump nominates Menomonee Falls Police Chief Anna Ruzinski as U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of Wisconsin," 28 Feb. 2020 Fire marshals are currently working to determine the cause of the fire that completely destroyed the Wholesale Tire Mart located at 4954 Alert New London Road in Morgan Township. Madeline Mitchell,, "'It's out.' Fire in Morgan Township no longer a danger to community, investigations underway," 21 Feb. 2020 The fire will be investigated by Jeffersonville Fire Department fire marshals after the fire is under control. Ben Tobin, The Courier-Journal, "Crews work to put out fire at Goodwood Brewing building in Jeffersonville," 21 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb President Trump declared the virus a national emergency Friday, which can be helpful for marshaling resources, and Congress reached a deal on a broad relief package. Katie Zezima, Washington Post, "Coronavirus is shutting down American life as states try to battle outbreak," 14 Mar. 2020 President Donald Trump declared the virus a national emergency Friday, which can be helpful for marshaling resources, and Congress reached a deal on a broad relief package. Anchorage Daily News, "Pandemic takes a dramatic toll as institutions, routines shut down," 14 Mar. 2020 Since then, Democrats have been focused on marshaling a backlash against Trump's autocratic tendencies, his rhetorical and policy assaults on segments of the population with little power, and his erratic international agenda. NBC News, "Iowa meltdown, Trump bump are 2020 warning signs for Democrats," 5 Feb. 2020 Of course, the greatest profits were to be made by marshaling and defining the tastes of the upper class, in order to sell advertisers access to them through the magazines’ pages. Kyle Chayka, The New Republic, "The Transformation of Condé Nast," 21 Oct. 2019 Steph Houghton is not only superb at marshalling the back four; her ability to play out from the back is unrivalled., "Manchester City's Women Are More Than Capable of Fending Off Arsenal in Pursuit of WSL Glory," 13 Oct. 2019 But instead of marshaling global unity against Tehran’s malign activities, Trump abandoned the nuclear agreement the U.N. reported Iran had been adhering to. Karim Sadjadpour, Time, "Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei Is One Despot Trump Might Not Win Over," 3 Oct. 2019 An American daylight raid on Feb. 14 demolished much of the Friedrichstadt industrial area and its marshaling yards, though far fewer civilian casualties were inflicted. Frederick Taylor, WSJ, "‘The Fire and the Darkness’ Review: Der Feuersturm," 31 Jan. 2020 Authoritarian regimes and democratic ones both are marshaling sophisticated technology to turn the web against the people with aggressive media manipulation campaigns and mass surveillance. The Washington Post, Twin Cities, "Other voices: The internet gets less free — for the ninth year in a row," 7 Nov. 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.

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

24 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Marshal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

March 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • field of crocuses
  • Which is a synonym of rectitudinous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!