federal

adjective
fed·​er·​al | \ ˈfe-d(ə-)rəl How to pronounce federal (audio) \

Definition of federal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of or constituting a form of government in which power is distributed between a central authority and a number of constituent territorial units
b : of or relating to the central government of a federation as distinguished from the governments of the constituent units
c : formed by a compact between political units that surrender their individual sovereignty to a central authority but retain limited residuary powers of government
2 often capitalized : of, relating to, or loyal to the federal government or the Union armies of the U.S. in the American Civil War
3 capitalized : being or belonging to a style of architecture and decoration current in the U.S. following the American Revolution
4 capitalized : advocating or friendly to the principle of a federal government with strong centralized powers especially : of or relating to the American Federalists
5 archaic : of or relating to a compact or treaty

Federal

noun

Definition of Federal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a supporter of the U.S. government in the Civil War especially : a soldier in the federal armies
2 : fed sense 1 usually used in plural The Federals arrested the smugglers.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from federal

Adjective

federally \ ˈfe-​d(ə-​)rə-​lē How to pronounce Federal (audio) \ adverb

Examples of federal in a Sentence

Adjective We pay federal, state, and local taxes. The ruling was overturned by a federal appeals court. furniture made in the Federal style
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The union said under federal labor law, Southwest must bargain with the union before making changes affecting working conditions. David Koenig And Ali Swenson, chicagotribune.com, 14 Oct. 2021 The union said under federal labor law, Southwest must bargain with the union before making changes affecting working conditions. David Koenig And Ali Swenson, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Oct. 2021 The union said under federal labor law, Southwest must bargain with the union before making changes affecting working conditions. BostonGlobe.com, 13 Oct. 2021 The legislation, as its initially proposed, could conflict with the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits state laws and constitutions from superseding federal law. al, 13 Oct. 2021 In seeking to dismiss the employees’ lawsuit, Google argued that its working conditions were regulated exclusively by the national labor board under federal law. Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 12 Oct. 2021 The Equality Act, which still needs to be approved in the Senate, would amend federal law, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Fair Housing Act, to explicitly include anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans. Tommy Beer, Forbes, 11 Oct. 2021 However, Congress still needs to amend existing federal law to allow the change. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, 11 Oct. 2021 The inmates are citing the Constitution's First Amendment as well as a 2000 federal law that protects a prisoner’s religious rights. Juan A. Lozano, Chron, 11 Oct. 2021

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

Adjective

1624, in the meaning defined at sense 5

Noun

1861, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for federal

Adjective

Latin foeder-, foedus compact, league; akin to Latin fidere to trust — more at bide

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About federal

Time Traveler for federal

Time Traveler

The first known use of federal was in 1624

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near federal

federacy

federal

Federal

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for federal

Last Updated

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Federal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/federal. Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon
Seen & Heard
People are talking about

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for federal

federal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of federal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to a form of government in which power is shared between a central government and individual states, provinces, etc.
: of or relating to the central government
: of, relating to, or loyal to the federal government during the American Civil War

Federal

noun

English Language Learners Definition of Federal (Entry 2 of 2)

: a supporter of the government of the U.S. in the American Civil War especially : a soldier in the federal armies
: a federal agent or officer

federal

adjective
fed·​er·​al | \ ˈfe-də-rəl How to pronounce federal (audio) , ˈfe-drəl \

Kids Definition of federal

: relating to a nation formed by the union of several parts

federal

adjective
fed·​er·​al

Legal Definition of federal

1 : of or constituting a form of government in which power is distributed between a central authority and a number of constituent territorial units (as states) a federal government
2 : of or relating to the central government of a federation as distinguished from the governments of the constituent territorial units (as states) especially : of or relating to the laws made and enforced by the federal government a federal crime

Other Words from federal

federally adverb

History and Etymology for federal

Latin foeder-, foedus compact, league

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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