Definition of marshal in English:



  • 1An officer of the highest rank in the armed forces of some countries, including France.

    • ‘Now, fully half of Napoleon's marshals had started their careers as common soldiers.’
    • ‘Now, half of Napoleon's marshals had once been common soldiers.’
    • ‘In 1935 officers' ranks were re-established, including the rank of marshal for the top five commanders.’
    • ‘I am not sure to what degree either Napoleon or his marshals followed his advice.’
    • ‘And the grand marshal, the base's 366th Fighter Wing commander, got out at the reviewing stand.’
    1. 1.1historical A high-ranking officer of state.
      • ‘He was a marshal there from 1652 to 1661, and Deputy Magistrate from 1661 to 1664.’
  • 2US A federal or municipal law officer.

    • ‘As US federal marshals dragged him away, his teenage daughters screamed, ‘Leave my daddy alone.’’
    • ‘Every pilot should be trained as a federal marshal.’
    • ‘When somebody surreptitiously opened the canal - and local police refused to make arrests - federal marshals were called in.’
    • ‘There must have been federal marshals somewhere, but I didn't notice them.’
    • ‘On the day, police officers, marshals and garage attendants will hand out flyers identifying alternative routes to motorists.’
    • ‘In Illinois, federal marshals shot into a group of protesters, killing two.’
    • ‘The placing of federal marshals on many planes and additional security measures should help boost travel further.’
    • ‘They were surrounded by a force of federal marshals; two Native Americans were killed, and one marshal seriously wounded.’
    • ‘In the past, marshals have used special ammunition designed for airplane safety.’
    • ‘However, when the justices travel around the country, they are sometimes protected by federal marshals rather than Supreme Court cops.’
    • ‘Federal marshals were dispatched to hospitals with subpoenas.’
    • ‘Now he is coming back to town to settle things with the marshal who had apprehended him.’
    • ‘Federal marshals estimated that the birdmen, in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, killed thousands of birds over a five-year span.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, federal flight marshals are still rare.’
    • ‘Federal marshals are guarding overseas flights, and state troopers are patrolling trains.’
    • ‘The next day federal marshals brought him back to Baltimore, where he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.’
    • ‘Now these marshals, of course, will wear plainclothes.’
    • ‘Previously, marshals have said that federal dress codes had forced them to wear outfits that made them stand out from regular airline passengers.’
    • ‘Meredith had to be escorted through campus by federal marshals.’
    • ‘Twenty-eight of the marshals were shot and another 160 police officers were injured.’
    1. 2.1The head of a police department.
      • ‘They were refused entry to the tavern and immediately went to the Canton Station in search of the Police Marshal.’
    2. 2.2North American The head of a fire department.
      • ‘You can call a fire marshal to inspect the house.’
      • ‘All, however, reserve special praise for the South Shore fire marshal, whom they say has been an enormous help in planning the space.’
      • ‘A local fire department or state fire marshal's office can provide guidance on the minimum legal requirements.’
      • ‘The authority for fire regulations for each state is governed either by the fire marshal or the state department of health.’
      • ‘Working on an emergency action plan with a fire department or fire marshal helps to build rapport in the event of an emergency.’
      • ‘The government already has three assistant fire marshals who inspect new buildings in the territory, and they may soon be joined by a fourth.’
      • ‘As building inspectors, fire marshals and riot police rally against them, the squatters continue to fight for decent shelter and survival.’
      • ‘The fire marshal's office and county police responded and examined the package, then called the Virginia State Police.’
      • ‘‘Luckily our fire marshals reacted in time and prevented the total loss of an expensive participating vehicle,’ he said.’
      • ‘Officials from the fire marshal's office were gathering information at the site for most of the week, but would not release the cause of the fire.’
  • 3An official responsible for supervising public events, especially sports events or parades.

    • ‘The organisers need marshals and bucket collectors to help them on the day.’
    • ‘Organisation is brilliant and throughout the race there are ample marshals and water stations.’
    • ‘As for furthering the association's development, the new president plans further training of athletes and marshals.’
    • ‘Safety was a priority thanks to the well organised marshals, stewards and the members of the Civil Defence who were standing by to deal with any emergency that might arise.’
    • ‘Parking at the event appeared well organised and there were plenty of marshals about to make sure cars were lined up properly and able to leave the ground easily at the end of the day.’
    • ‘Fireworks went off, barricades were removed and crowd marshals went home as the thousands and thousands of people swarmed onto the bridge.’
    • ‘Last year she helped to organise a national marshal training campaign, designed to make rallying safer, for the drivers and spectators.’
    • ‘The motor cycle crew do fantastic work on the road to make it safe for all participants, while the stewards and cycle marshals make sure all traffic is kept moving and there are no delays.’
    • ‘They appoint their own marshals, who control the annual get-together.’
    • ‘Surveys show that drivers and the public all want marshals and someone has to pay.’
    • ‘More than 400 people will be supporting the event, many being reunited after working as marshals during the Commonwealth Games.’
    • ‘Garda and road marshals will be in place along the route of the parade.’
    • ‘Around one hundred marshals will be out on the fells to ensure the safety of runners and Yorkshire Television will be filming a documentary of the day.’
    • ‘They went ahead and terminated, not only my membership of the Council, but also my status as a skate official, a marshal and even my ordinary membership.’
    • ‘An official marshal in an orange vest was in place to initiate the spontaneous applause every time a wheelchair athlete sailed past.’
    • ‘There was absolute lack of coordination and communication between the start, the paddocks and corner marshals.’
    • ‘While cyclists get a good night sleep tonight, organisers will be at the venue, setting up watering points, organising marshals and coordinating safety vehicles.’
    • ‘The sheer scale of the event is reflected in the fact that no fewer than 5,000 people were involved behind the scenes between officials, marshals and team members.’
    • ‘In order to get good action shots we often have go in front of the catch fencing from the guidance of the race marshals and if a car does go out of control it usually shunts in the tyre wall and comes to rest.’
    • ‘A code was introduced for large challenge events requiring organisers to provide marshals and toilets but this is unenforceable.’
    official, marshal, organizer
    View synonyms


  • 1Arrange or assemble (a group of people, especially soldiers) in order.

    ‘the general marshaled his troops’
    figurative ‘he paused for a moment, as if marshaling his thoughts’
    • ‘Crisp, sharp hurling, was complemented by an unyielding spirit and determination, with the players confidently marshalling their sectors with great gusto.’
    • ‘Napoleon marshalled his forces rapidly, and this speed of assembly proved the key to victory in 1805-7.’
    • ‘The hordes of away fans were marshalled safely in and out of the ground by police.’
    • ‘He scored 41 runs, took a diving catch and put in a tight bowling spell - and generally marshalled his troops effectively throughout.’
    • ‘He recruited and marshalled the troops and issued their orders.’
    • ‘However they could not breach a well organised defence well marshalled by Thomas and Jason and Kill retained their lead up to the break.’
    • ‘However, their chances were few and far between in the first half thanks to a well marshalled defence with James and Sean playing very well.’
    • ‘She marshalled her players before the game against Pannyok, speaking sternly, grasping each by the shoulder.’
    • ‘Donie tormented the opposition but generally was well marshalled by James who restricted him to just that single injury time point.’
    • ‘"You have got to have someone in there to marshal the troops.’
    • ‘The younger players were well marshalled by their opponents and did not get the same latitude as they did in previous games.’
    • ‘Behind his affable, bluff demeanour and disingenuous screen image, one senses he is the master of all he surveys, not quite the lone reporter, rather a general marshalling an army of researchers.’
    • ‘He'd be marshalling his troops to do the impossible; taking the fight to the enemy, probing for weakness in ifs defenses, and breaking through.’
    • ‘They were marshalled into three groups - apparent ring leaders and troublemakers isolated into one group.’
    • ‘He was replaced by Gareth, who had an excellent game, marshalling his back-line well and hitting two thirds of his place kicks in windy conditions.’
    • ‘The absence of Graham is a massive blow and without him nobody seemed capable of marshalling the full-back line.’
    • ‘To realise his dream, he is marshalling seven of New Zealand's best dancers to workshop the new dance - four of whom are working internationally.’
    • ‘The Dutchman, making his debut for the Perth club, did his best to marshal a back line denuded of two players thanks to the folly of red cards in a pre - season friendly.’
    • ‘It marshalled organised labour against a war involving British participation for the first time since Suez, ultimately winning the united support of the TUC general council.’
    • ‘In the end, a true leader is the one who often makes the right decisions, be it selecting the right people for the match, winning the toss and most importantly, marshalling his resources on the field.’
    gather, gather together, assemble, collect, muster, mass, amass, call together, draw up, line up, align, array, organize, group, put in order, set in order, put into position, set into position, arrange, deploy, position, order
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[with object]Correctly position or arrange (rolling stock)
      • ‘Heavy cars must be marshalled as close as possible to the head-end and light cars to the rear of trains.’
      • ‘The time frame to switch out these many local jobs and marshal the outbound train was tight and required precision work in a small yard.’
      • ‘Soon this type of locomotive proved too light for the heavy trains that were being marshalled and were eventually assigned to lighter work, shunting scrap and ingot buggies.’
      • ‘However, open and closed wagons are available for the carriage of bicycles and can be marshalled into a train as required.’
      • ‘The site also has a secure hard stacking and truck marshalling area.’
    2. 1.2[with object]Guide or direct the movement of (an aircraft) on the ground at an airport.
      • ‘As they marshaled the aircraft to its final parking spot, the number three brake became engulfed in flames.’
      • ‘A reflective vest provides increased visibility needed during aircraft marshalling that allows safe flightline operations.’
      • ‘But he likes the feeling of pride he gets when marshaling a bomber plane to the runway for a launch - no matter the weather.’
      • ‘After being marshalled in, Matt cut the engine.’
      • ‘He saw that the taxiing aircraft was coming way too close to the parked one and that the person marshalling was still directing the aircraft forward.’
  • 2Heraldry
    Combine (coats of arms), typically to indicate marriage, descent, or the bearing of office.

    • ‘Thus, when more than one different coat of arm is marshaled on a shield, through descent from heraldic heiresses, it was placed 'quarterly'.’
    • ‘The insignia of an order or decoration should not be displayed with a shield on which the arms of two spouses are marshaled, because the honor is specific to the person to whom it was granted, not to his or her spouse.’
    • ‘However, they were often infringed when two or more different arms were combined (or marshaled) within one shield and two tinctures that should in principle not touch each other necessarily became adjacent.’


Middle English (denoting a high-ranking officer of state): from Old French mareschal blacksmith, commander from late Latin mariscalcus, from Germanic elements meaning horse (compare with mare) and servant.