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

Marty Von Raesfeld, who worked in the Redwood City Fire Department for a time, retired in 2015 after nearly 20 years as Santa Clara’s fire marshal. Sal Pizarro, The Mercury News, "Mission College dedicates fire tower to Santa Clara family," 14 Sep. 2019 Other attendees were turned away because of fire marshal regulations, according to Colorado Democratic Party organizers. Justin Wingerter, The Denver Post, "Hickenlooper trades presidential primary stage for Durango library," 7 Sep. 2019 An arena fire marshal may be the only hope for the U.S. vice president, held hostage at a Pittsburgh hockey game. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 1 - 7, 2019: John Wayne in ‘The Searchers’ and more," 30 Aug. 2019 Residents should report the calls not only to their local police department, sheriff's office or marshals office, but also to the Federal Trade Commission, Reyna said. Loyd Brumfield, Dallas News, "Watch out for scam callers collecting fake court fines, Dallas sheriff's office warns," 20 Aug. 2019 At the end of the hearing, Ezra cleared the courtroom except for staff and marshals, allowing the parents to say goodbye to their only child semi-privately before he was taken back to jail. Guillermo Contreras,, "San Antonio judge details ex-Texas State student’s racist, violent posts," 5 Aug. 2019 True Grit' The force behind the Charles Portis novel is Mattie Ross, the assertive, intelligent and sometimes over-confident teenager who hires a U.S. marshal to track down her father's killer. Domenica Bongiovanni, Indianapolis Star, "See Django's hat, 'Brokeback Mountain' shirts and other props at Western film exhibit," 8 Mar. 2018 Harris had become angry after an officer escorted a fire marshal and city official inspecting his home, police said. Don Sweeney, sacbee, "Someone threw out his clam chowder. He called 911 about it – five times | The Sacramento Bee," 5 Mar. 2018 But after the majority of spectators had left the courtroom, and after Beck left the bench, a U.S. marshal allowed Lalchan’s grandmother to be escorted to the cellblock to greet the prisoner, two people familiar with the incident said. Keith L. Alexander, Washington Post, "Former pharmacist sentenced to 7 ½ years in fatal shooting of husband," 7 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The husband-and-wife team of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, his former collaborator, have marshaled the support of the White House, and president Donald Trump took to Twitter yesterday (July 19) to agitate on Rocky’s behalf. Oliver Staley, Quartz, "A$AP Rocky shows it pays to have well-connected friends," 20 July 2019 His baby sister was the party girl/front row fixture who marshaled celebrities to fashion shows and helped conceive Versus, the company’s bridge line. Jacob Bernstein, New York Times, "Donatella Versace Has Long Been a Gay Icon. Now It’s Official.," 29 June 2019 Republicans have been very successful in marshaling the rage of their base. Libby Watson, The New Republic, "Brett Kavanaugh Has Democrats Running Scared," 17 Sep. 2019 While the Champions League final last season was far from vintage, the site of Jordan Henderson marshaling his teammates and instinctively covering at right back to plug any gaps was the mark of just how progressed the 29-year-old's game has become., "Jordan Henderson: An Ode to One of Football's Great Survivors," 5 Sep. 2019 Some, at 15, were already fantasizing about marshaling breakfast for whining, barking, yowling households. Sarah Ruden, National Review, "American Men," 22 Aug. 2019 When European leaders gathered at an emergency summit in Brussels, days after Mr Trump’s bombshell, the solution seemed simple enough: NATO’s 29 remaining members would regroup and marshal their defences without America. The Economist, "Europe alone: July 2024," 6 July 2019 There is a difference between being progressive and now marshaling to dislodge Marty Walsh. Milton J. Valencia,, "Michelle Wu says Boston is ready for change. But is Boston ready for Michelle Wu?," 30 June 2019 In addition to the paint shop, FCA is building a test track near Warren Avenue as well as a 2,590-space employee parking lot and 689-space trailer marshaling area on St. Jean, which is now closed to traffic. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "Major milestone just happened at new FCA site in Detroit," 26 Feb. 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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Statistics for marshal

Last Updated

21 Oct 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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