mar·​ti·​net | \ˌmär-tə-ˈnet \

Definition of martinet 

1 : a strict disciplinarian The prison's warden was a cruel martinet.

2 : a person who stresses a rigid adherence to the details of forms and methods a martinet in conducting meetings of the society, he never tolerated any sign of levity or indecorum— D. J. Boorstin

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

When France's King Louis XIV appointed Lieutenant Colonel Jean Martinet to be inspector general of the infantry in the late 17th century, he made a wise choice. As a drillmaster, Martinet trained his troops to advance into battle in precise linear formations and to fire in volleys only upon command, thus making the most effective use of inaccurate muskets - and making the French army one of the best on the continent. He also gave English a new word. Martinet has been used synonymously with "strict disciplinarian" since the 1730s.

Examples of martinet in a Sentence

The prison's warden was a cruel martinet.

Recent Examples on the Web

The Efficiency Paradox What Big Data Can’t Do By Edward Tenner (Knopf; 304 pages; $27.95) Balwani, with whom Holmes was romantically linked, was a martinet in snow-wash jeans. Stephen Phillips,, "New tech books: ‘Bad Blood,’ ‘Live Work Work Work Die,’ ‘The Efficiency Paradox’," 22 June 2018 As a war president, Wilson was both moralist and martinet. Richard Norton Smith, WSJ, "‘The Moralist’ Review: The High and Rocky Road," 19 Apr. 2018 FloTrack has some April 1st fun with the IAAF rules martinets., "Apparently Drake to stage USATF's 2019 outdoor champs too: Oregon track & field rundown," 1 Apr. 2018 Tuomanen also plays Cassius, a martinet, envious, too ready to take offense, a source of comic energy. John Timpane,, "'Julius Caesar' at Quintessence: Tense, tart, appalling, engrossing," 25 Mar. 2018 From martinets like the Karolyis, Bela and Marta, to this creep Nassar, the beauty of the sport was truly skin deep. Paul Daugherty,, "Doc: The demise of the Pirates is bad for Major League Baseball," 16 Jan. 2018 Even that old windbag Polonius, played by Robert Joy, is less a bombastic grandstander than a dry-as-dust martinet. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: Michael Urie Puts the Madcap in Hamlet’s Madness," 23 Jan. 2018 Instead, Betts emphasizes Cathleen’s lesbian stirrings and the panic of Mother Superior (Melissa Leo), an always-angry martinet. Armond White, National Review, "Radicalizing Youth via the Movies," 30 Oct. 2017 Paul was not a tyrannical father pushing his son like a martinet. Marcos Bretón, sacbee, "The hottest player in Major League Baseball is from Sacramento. But how he got there is an even better story," 25 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'martinet.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of martinet

1737, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for martinet

Jean Martinet, 17th century French army officer

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about martinet

Listen to Our Podcast about martinet

Statistics for martinet

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for martinet

The first known use of martinet was in 1737

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for martinet



English Language Learners Definition of martinet

: a person who is very strict and demands obedience from others

More from Merriam-Webster on martinet

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with martinet

Comments on martinet

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


to enclose within walls

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!