mar·​ti·​net ˌmär-tə-ˈnet How to pronounce martinet (audio)
: a strict disciplinarian
The prison's warden was a cruel martinet.
: 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 indecorumD. J. Boorstin

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 early 18th century.

Examples of martinet in a Sentence

The prison's warden was a cruel martinet.
Recent Examples on the Web MacArthur himself, a martinet and a staunch Republican, was torn between his New Dealers and the conservatives. Ian Buruma, The New Yorker, 16 Oct. 2023 The ex-principal of a private school recounts outwitting a troublesome parent—her state’s martinet governor, Brigadier (Hitler) Okon. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 9 Oct. 2023 Van Zweden, in turn, was a martinet specialist in the standards who seemed appealing as an about-face from Gilbert, less electric in the core repertory. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, 7 Feb. 2023 Awaiting them at the dock are the martinet of a hotel manager, Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore), and her staff, putting on an air of practiced friendliness. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 28 Oct. 2022 The young princess’s father, born Prince Albert, was the excruciatingly shy, stuttering second son of the martinet King George V and the frigidly correct Queen Mary. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, 8 Sep. 2022 Also the disingenuous notion that someone would actually prefer drudging for a martinet spouse to pretty much any other lifestyle choice. Glenn Kenny,, 18 Aug. 2022 Evelyn Gresham is a successful lawyer and something of a martinet. Cressida Connolly, WSJ, 23 Oct. 2020 His father, a martinet but also a stabilizing influence, died when Hernandez was in college. Paul Daugherty,, 21 Jan. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'martinet.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Jean Martinet, 17th century French army officer

First Known Use

1737, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of martinet was in 1737


Dictionary Entries Near martinet

Cite this Entry

“Martinet.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


mar·​ti·​net ˌmärt-ᵊn-ˈet How to pronounce martinet (audio)
: a person who demands strict obedience

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