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[mahr-shuh l] /ˈmɑr ʃəl/
a military officer of the highest rank, as in the French and some other armies.
Compare field marshal.
an administrative officer of a U.S. judicial district who performs duties similar to those of a sheriff.
a court officer serving processes, attending court, giving personal service to the judges, etc.
the chief of a police or fire department in some cities.
a police officer in some communities.
a higher officer of a royal household or court.
an official charged with the arrangement or regulation of ceremonies, parades, etc.:
the marshal of the St. Patrick's Day parade.
verb (used with object), marshaled, marshaling or (especially British) marshalled, marshalling.
to arrange in proper order; set out in an orderly manner; arrange clearly:
to marshal facts; to marshal one's arguments.
to array, as for battle.
to usher or lead ceremoniously:
Their host marshaled them into the room.
Heraldry. to combine (two or more coats of arms) on a single escutcheon.
Origin of marshal
1225-75; Middle English marshal, syncopated variant of mareschal < Old French < Germanic; compare Old High German marahscalh groom, equivalent to marah horse (see mare1) + scalh servant, cognate with Old English scealc
Related forms
marshalcy, marshalship, noun
marshaler; especially British, marshaller, noun
remarshal, verb (used with object), remarshaled, remarshaling or (especially British) remarshalled, remarshalling.
submarshal, noun
undermarshal, noun
unmarshaled, adjective
unmarshalled, adjective
Can be confused
marshal, marital, martial.
9. order, dispose; convoke. See gather.
9. scatter. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for marshal
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He looks very impressive, with his cocked hat and marshal's baton.

    Thomas Hardy's Dorset Robert Thurston Hopkins
  • Now and then the glance of the marshal wandered to the door.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • He soon learnt that marshal Keith was established in his old quarters, and made his way thither.

  • The pain in the marshal's face became a ghastly thing to see.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • If a fugitive escape from the custody of the marshal, the marshal to be liable for his full value.

    The Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims American Anti-Slavery Society
British Dictionary definitions for marshal


(in some armies and air forces) an officer of the highest rank
(in England) an officer, usually a junior barrister, who accompanies a judge on circuit and performs miscellaneous secretarial duties
(in the US)
  1. a Federal court officer assigned to a judicial district whose functions are similar to those of a sheriff
  2. (in some states) the chief police or fire officer
an officer who organizes or conducts ceremonies, parades, etc
Also called knight marshal. (formerly in England) an officer of the royal family or court, esp one in charge of protocol
an obsolete word for ostler
verb (transitive) -shals, -shalling, -shalled (US) -shals, -shaling, -shaled
to arrange in order: to marshal the facts
to assemble and organize (troops, vehicles, etc) prior to onward movement
to arrange (assets, mortgages, etc) in order of priority
to guide or lead, esp in a ceremonious way
to combine (two or more coats of arms) on one shield
Derived Forms
marshalcy, marshalship, noun
marshaller, (US) marshaler, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French mareschal; related to Old High German marahscalc groom, from marah horse + scalc servant
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for marshal

early 13c. as a surname; mid-13c. as "high officer of the royal court;" from Old French mareschal "commanding officer of an army; officer in charge of a household" (Modern French maréchal), originally "stable officer, horse tender, groom" (Frankish Latin mariscaluis) from Frankish *marhskalk or a similar Germanic word, literally "horse-servant" (cf. Old High German marahscalc "groom," Middle Dutch maerschalc), from Proto-Germanic *markhaz "horse" (see mare (1)) + *skalkaz "servant" (cf. Old English scealc "servant, retainer, member of a crew," Dutch schalk "rogue, wag," Gothic skalks "servant").

Cognate with Old English horsþegn. From c.1300 as "stable officer;" early 14c. as "military commander, general in the army." For development history, cf. constable. Also from Germanic are Italian scalco "steward," Spanish mariscal "marshal."


early 15c., "to tend (horses)," from marshal (n.). Meaning "to arrange, place in order" is from mid-15c.; that of "to arrange for fighting" is from mid-15c. Figurative use by 1690s. Related: Marshaled; marshaling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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