mar·​tial | \ ˈmär-shəl How to pronounce martial (audio) \

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 How to pronounce Martial (audio) \

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 \ ˈmär-​shə-​lē How to pronounce martially (audio) \ 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

Inosanto is one of only three martial artists to have been trained in the art of Jett Kune Do by Lee himself. Matt Mcnulty,, "Bruce Lee's Protégé Joins Fighter's Daughter in Slamming His Portrayal in Once Upon a Time...," 1 Aug. 2019 Bruce Lee was many things during his tragically short life: a master martial artist, an actor, director, philosopher and even a poet. Los Angeles Times, "Bruce Lee’s training partner slams ‘Once Upon a Time’ portrayal of late icon," 1 Aug. 2019 And because Berry is not an experienced martial artist, Pitof must stage her fights in quick cuts with ample visual effects. Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Catwoman': THR's 2004 Review," 23 July 2019 Joe Taslim Is Set to Star The Indonesian actor and martial artist, 38, will play Sub-Zero, a fighter known for his abilities to control ice and his rivalry with Scorpion, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Rachel Desantis,, "Mortal Kombat Movie Casts Its First Major Character: Everything to Know About the Action Reboot," 10 July 2019 Netflix urges people to stop due to safety concerns Statham punted the challenge over to film director Guy Richie and mixed martial artist James Moontasri. Dalvin Brown, USA TODAY, "What's the Bottle Cap Challenge? Here's what you need to know about the latest viral trend," 2 July 2019 This workmanlike quality lends the fights a certain grit, a punishing realism, that’s absent when a martial artist goes to work, and Wick’s progress evokes at times the doggedness of Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, another hardworking action hero. Ross Douthat, National Review, "Keanu Reeves’ Dance with Death in John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum," 20 June 2019 The martial artists steadied their bodies on the mat, at times moving in sync, snapping their hips and torquing their ligaments to generate force with every blow. Javonte Anderson,, "Parkinson's patients enlist in karate classes to fight disease," 14 June 2019 At the age of 36, Cerrone will be on the cusp of fighting for the world title against Nurmagomedov, who is possibly the greatest mixed martial artist in the world. Justin Barrasso,, "Top Five Storylines Heading Into UFC 238," 7 June 2019

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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Learn More about martial

Statistics for martial

Last Updated

11 Aug 2019

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 How to pronounce martial (audio) \

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).


not constant or steady

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