martial law

noun

Definition of martial law

1 : the law applied in occupied territory by the military authority of the occupying power
2 : the law administered by military forces that is invoked by a government in an emergency when the civilian law enforcement agencies are unable to maintain public order and safety

Examples of martial law in a Sentence

The government has imposed martial law throughout the city to stop the riots. an area placed under martial law
Recent Examples on the Web Declaring martial law is not being discussed as an option to maintain order during the lockdown, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a separate briefing. Andreo Calonzo, Bloomberg.com, "Duterte Says Lockdown Protesters Can Be Shot If They Fight," 10 May 2020 The military declares martial law in the town as scientists race to develop a cure, even as a nefarious major-general plots to develop the virus as a biological weapon. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Indulge your morbid curiosity about the pandemic with these ten films," 3 May 2020 But four months later, with the economy still reeling, leading to food shortages and protests in the streets, Mr. Kania was replaced by General Jaruzelski, who declared martial law on Dec. 13, 1981. Dennis Hevesi, New York Times, "Stanislaw Kania, 92, Polish Leader During Solidarity’s Rise, Dies," 3 Mar. 2020 At least 15 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Shulan, China, prompting officials to quarantine 290 people, enforce martial law and lock down the northeastern city. NBC News, "New COVID-19 infections in China, South Korea raise alarm over second wave," 11 May 2020 Police seemed unable to respond to crime, as martial law prohibited travel between states to stop the spread of the virus. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "'Contagion' vs. coronavirus: The film's connections to a real life pandemic," 2 Apr. 2020 Could the federal government send the military out to impose martial law? Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Army Tanks on Trains Aren’t a Sign of Impending Martial Law," 24 Mar. 2020 Louisiana is also working with local police to support the order but quashed rumors on its website of military control or martial law. Amelia Pak-harvey, Indianapolis Star, "Here's what enforcement of coronavirus 'stay at home' order will look like in Indiana," 24 Mar. 2020 But once the food ends then martial law, rioting, looting—all those things quickly follow understandably. Garrett M. Graff, Wired, "'Here in Spirit': An Oral History of Faith Amid the Pandemic," 10 Apr. 2020

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

1576, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for martial law

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The first known use of martial law was in 1576

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Statistics for martial law

Last Updated

3 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Martial law.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/martial%20law. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for martial law

martial law

noun

English Language Learners Definition of martial law

: control of an area by military forces rather than by the police

martial law

noun
mar·​tial law | \ ˈmär-shəl- \

Legal Definition of martial law

1 : the law applied in occupied territory by the military authority of the occupying power
2 : the law administered by military forces that is invoked by a government in an emergency when civilian law enforcement agencies are unable to maintain public order and safety — compare military law

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More from Merriam-Webster on martial law

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for martial law

Britannica English: Translation of martial law for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about martial law

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