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 Those figures don’t include fires on federal or Oregon Department of Forestry land, for example, according to the fire marshal’s office. oregonlive, "What fireworks are legal, illegal in Oregon? What to know as Fourth of July nears," 24 June 2020 Rion, who attended the Saturday evening event in Tulsa, Oklahoma, suggested the fire marshal who told reporters that only enough people showed up to fill one-third of the arena was wrong. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "'Mathematical certainty': OANN reporter claims fire marshal wrong about Trump rally crowd size in Tulsa," 22 June 2020 According to the city’s fire marshal, fewer than one third of the 19,000 seats in the BOK arena were filled. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "Trump Is Terrorizing America," 21 June 2020 But images from the rally show that the venue was far below capacity, and the Tulsa Fire Department says the fire marshal counted just 6,200 attendees. Jeremy Hallock, Dallas News, "K-pop fans, TikTok users are taking credit for Trump’s low turnout in Tulsa," 21 June 2020 Only 6,200 supporters ultimately occupied the general admission sections, the Tulsa fire marshal told NBC News. NBC News, "Trump 'furious' about low Tulsa turnout, a 'heinous' NASCAR discovery, and Dems to probe SDNY drama," 21 June 2020 That complaint says the task force was made up of 14 law enforcement officers from eight Atlanta-area police departments, and at least one U.S. marshal. Pamela Kirkland, CNN, "Atlanta Police officer charged in tasing of college students was named in prior excessive force lawsuit," 11 June 2020 The state’s fire marshal’s office works to protect the public, property and the environment from fire through education, regulation and enforcement. Mary Kilpatrick, cleveland, "Gov. Mike DeWine appoints Kevin S. Reardon as state fire marshal," 11 June 2020 Indoor and enclosed entertainment venues shall limit occupancy to 50 percent of the normal occupancy load as determined by the fire marshal. Mary Colurso |, al, "Entertainment venues in Jefferson County can reopen under state guidelines," 9 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In recent days, the state has been marshaling additional resources for local health agencies. Sean Campbell, ProPublica, "In Hard-Hit New Jersey, COVID-19 Saddles Some Small Health Departments With Crushing Workload," 22 May 2020 My team is working to identify the populations who are at risk of falling through the cracks of our recovery response and partnering with government and community groups to marshal resources and support. oregonlive, "Portland Commissioner Position 4 candidates explain their plan to help the city recover from the coronavirus pandemic," 26 Apr. 2020 The difference is that (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and these emergency management groups that marshalled resources between Louisiana, Texas, and Florida, are now concerned with the entire county. al, "Coronavirus could be worse for beach businesses than BP oil spill, hurricanes," 2 Apr. 2020 Pritzker and legislative leaders have put the onus on Lightfoot to marshal support for her proposals. Gregory Pratt,, "State lawmakers return for veto session under cloud as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot faces major test of her sway in Springfield," 25 Oct. 2019 The evidence Warren marshalled is now considered misleading at best, and at worst thoroughly debunked. Samuel Hammond, National Review, "Elizabeth Warren’s Anti-Corporate Fixation," 26 Sep. 2019 Several cytokines are responsible for sparking spates of inflammation, the process by which immune forces are marshaled to the site of damage or infection, sometimes leading to swelling, redness, and pain. National Geographic, "A one-two punch to fight COVID-19," 7 May 2020 This is where the HIV community’s expertise in immunology, tracking disease spread, and clinical trials can be marshaled to fight Covid-19. Sarah Wild, Quartz Africa, "South Africa’s leadership in HIV research is galvanizing to tackle coronavirus and develop tests," 2 Apr. 2020 Instead, Trump will have to possess the confidence to see how the world’s greatest economy, greatest medical talent, greatest military, and greatest energy and food production can all be marshaled in a symphonic fashion. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Trump’s Strategic Foresight Is Being Put to the Test," 26 Mar. 2020

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

28 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Marshal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 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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