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

Fire crews were dispatched around 4 p.m. on Aug. 30, shortly after a fire marshal from Howard County who happened to be in the area saw smoke from the restaurant and around the same time patrons were alerting employees to the smell of smoke. Cody Boteler,, "Fire at Loafers Bar and Grill in Catonsville still under investigation," 4 Sep. 2019 In 1992, white separatist Randy Weaver surrendered to authorities in Naples, Idaho, ending an 11-day siege by federal agents that had claimed the lives of Weaver’s wife, son and a deputy US marshal., "This day in history," 31 Aug. 2019 Seated directly in front of them were a U.S. marshal named William Richardson and his wife. Gary Kamiya,, "San Francisco love story: A hooker, her gambling man and a hanging," 23 Aug. 2019 According to the state police, a resident state trooper was helping a state marshal with an eviction at the address when Sabino acted and spoke in a way that prompted the trooper to call a SWAT team and bomb squad. Christine Dempsey,, "Man who barricaded himself in Hebron house during eviction to face judge," 6 Aug. 2019 More than once, a marshal there has walked up to me to ask about my day. Charles Bethea, The New Yorker, "The Mail," 29 May 2019 Since the 1970s, Barboza has been a prominent public official in this town, serving on various boards, and as a police officer, volunteer firefighter, state fire marshal, and civil defense director. Amanda Milkovits,, "Demonstration held outside home of Bristol resident accused of molesting boys decades ago," 5 Aug. 2019 Some news accounts said that rum runners, who were tired of dealing with Melvin’s uncle, the town marshal, sought to kidnap his son out of revenge. John Caniglia,, "‘A missing child can never be forgotten’: Police, surviving sister seek answers in 1928 disappearance of Orrville boy," 21 July 2019 McIlroy finished, signed for his 79, signed a flag for a marshal, hopped a fence on his way to media interviews, and showed patience and a great sense of humor with the media. Michael Rosenberg,, "Rory McIlroy's Portrush Homecoming Gets Off to a Disastrous Start," 18 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The mothers had to appear in the reform pictures, and these images were marshaled as evidence in the case made against them by the social workers and the sociologists. Longreads, "A Minor Figure," 20 July 2019 Meanwhile, Young had perhaps her best game in an Aces uniform, scoring a season-high 17 points and marshaling the offense well with a game-high five assists. Kellen Becoats,, "Can the Aces Remain Dominant Without A’ja Wilson and a Recurring Turnover Problem?," 5 Aug. 2019 As Biden marshals his arguments, Harris is taking the stage in a defensive crouch. Philip Elliott, Time, "Joe Biden is Ready for a Debate Rematch. This Time He's in a Fighting Mood.," 31 July 2019 Eliason arrived at the Gavilan College parking lot, where festivalgoers had marshaled to reunite with family. Alex Horton, Washington Post, "After a mass shooting upended Gilroy, a local reporter had searing words for the national media," 30 July 2019 Yet the outrage marshaled by the media, in their role as Democratic handmaidens, is deeply cynical, designed to separate Trump from suburban voters in 2020. John Kass, Twin Cities, "John Kass: Race card loses its sting as it’s overused," 29 July 2019 In the modern era, most presidents with substantial legislative legacies benefit from trying to find common ground with the other party and to marshal the support of a wider swath of the electorate through inclusive messaging. Fred Bauer, National Review, "The Fundamental Tension of the Trump Presidency," 19 July 2019 The picture Peters paints is one of a man capable of rising to the top of his profession and marshaling a team of lawyers to protect himself from the consequences of any misdeeds. Anna North, Vox, "Les Moonves and the myth of uncontrollable male desire," 12 Sep. 2018 The beverage industry has fought soda taxes, which have also been passed in Philadelphia and Seattle, with multimillion-dollar campaigns and by marshaling local business interests. Alejandro Lazo, WSJ, "California Shields Big Soda From Local Taxes," 29 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

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

9 Sep 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

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


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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