mar·​tial | \ˈmär-shəl \

Definition of martial 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or suited for war or a warrior martial music a martial tone of voice— Tim Appelo martial prowess

2 : relating to an army or to military life martial discipline stories of martial tradition— Ewen Macaskill

3 : experienced in or inclined to war : warlike its martial people fought the British to a standstill— Mary Anne Weaver


biographical name
Mar·​tial | \ˈmär-shəl \

Definition of Martial (Entry 2 of 2)

circa a.d. 40–circa 103 Marcus Valerius Martialis Roman epigrammatist

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Other Words from martial


martially \-​shə-​lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for martial

Synonyms: Adjective

military, soldierly

Antonyms: Adjective


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Martial and Roman Mythology

Mars was the Roman god of war and one of the patron gods of Rome itself. He was responsible for everything military, from warriors to weapons to marching music. Thus, martial arts are skills of combat and self-defense also practiced as sport. When martial law is declared, a country's armed forces take over the functions of the police. And a court-martial is a military court or trial.

Examples of martial in a Sentence


the marching band played “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and several other martial airs one of the basic tenets of martial law

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The Fars video follows a long tradition of martial propaganda films across the Mideast. Nasser Karimi, The Seattle Times, "Iran video threatens missile strikes on UAE, Saudi Arabia," 25 Sep. 2018 McSally hasn’t shied from contrasting her martial past with Sinema’s, including in an attack ad that compared her service in the Middle East with her rival’s past antiwar activism. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "In a Record-Breaking Election Year for Women, Here Are the Races to Watch," 17 Sep. 2018 But those songs really are nice — or, in the case of Rabbit and Tigger’s martial anthem about the dangers of Heffalumps, charmingly silly. Noel Murray, The Verge, "Christopher Robin is a reminder of all the good Pooh movies — including one on Netflix now," 3 Aug. 2018 Image The warrior was a symbol of martial strength, molded from terra cotta and buried more than 2,000 years ago with China’s first emperor to defend him in the afterlife. Austin Ramzy, New York Times, "American Is Charged With Stealing Terra-Cotta Warrior’s Thumb," 19 Feb. 2018 Elsewhere, the director’s penchant for slow-mo can get a little ridiculous, especially in the martial-arts kicks and medium-wattage car chases. Michael Phillips,, "'Superfly' review: One last score, this time in Atlanta," 12 June 2018 Frequent Lamb’s hand Manny Fernandes, in particular, is endlessly entertaining as the goofball music-shop proprietor Billy, whose martial-arts skills are on a par with his (subpar) success with the ladies. James Hebert,, "'Once' is a singularly memorable musical trip at Lamb's Players Theatre," 9 June 2018 In spite of official sales estimated at 300m copies, plus multiple spin-off films, television serials and games, the 14 martial-arts epics written by Jin Yong between 1955 and 1972 have remained unknown to most Western readers. The Economist, "A martial-arts mega-hit finally arrives in English," 22 Feb. 2018 May’s office revealed that martial bands of Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards will welcome Trump at his arrival in the Great Court with rousing renditions of the Liberty Fanfare, Amazing Grace and the National Emblem. Josh Dawsey, Washington Post, "In Britain, Trump will see castles and the queen and steer clear of protesters," 6 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'martial.' 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 martial


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for martial


Middle English, from Latin martialis of Mars, from Mart-, Mars

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Statistics for martial

Last Updated

17 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for martial

The first known use of martial was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for martial



English Language Learners Definition of martial

: of or relating to war or soldiers


mar·​tial | \ˈmär-shəl \

Kids Definition of martial

: having to do with or suitable for war martial music martial courage

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Comments on martial

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


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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