Word Confusion: Marshal vs Marshall vs Martial

Posted November 14, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I was reading the latest in a series I adore and kept running across martial being used erroneously. It drove me mad!

“…in time for them to martial their forces…”

“…angry energy and the need to martial her forces…”

“The Emperor was not best pleased and has been martialing the full force of his concentration.”

Please, please keep in mind that martial is an adjective. It is not used as a verb.

You may want to explore the post, “Marital versus Martial” for those differences.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

If you found this post on “Marshal vs Marshall vs Martial” interesting, consider tweeting it to your friends. Subscribe to KD Did It, if you’d like to track this post for future updates.

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Marshal Marshall Martial
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: marshal; Merriam-Webster: marshal; Oxford Dictionary: marshal

United States Marshals are briefed for Operation Falcon 2008.

“USMS Brief” is courtesy of the U.S. Marshal Service and is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

United States Marshals are briefed for Operation Falcon 2008.

Oil on canvas of Thurgood Marshall standing before a wood panelled wall.

“Thurgood Marshall” by Betsy Graves Reyneau (1888–1964) (Google Cultural Institute) is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Two grandmasters of the Shaolin Temple Shi DeRu in yellow robes perform martial arts at the Shaolin Temple Shi SuXi.

“Shi DeRu and Shi DeYang” by Shi Deru, a.k.a., Shawn Xiangyang Liu, is under the [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 licenses, via Wikimedia Commons

Shaolin monks engaging in martial arts.

Part of Grammar:
Noun; Verb, transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: marshals
Past tense or past participle: marshaled
Gerund or present participle: marshaling

Noun; Proper Noun;
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: marshals
Past tense or past participle: marshalled [British] Gerund or present participle: marshalling [British]

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

  • [Chiefly historical] A high-ranking officer of state

[U.S.] A federal or municipal law officer

  • Sky marshal
  • Field marshal
  • Performs duties similar to those of a sheriff
  • The head of a police department
  • [North American] The head of a fire department
  • An officer having charge of prisoners

An official responsible for supervising public events, especially sports events or parades

A higher officer of a royal household or court

[U.K.] An official accompanying a judge on circuit to act as secretary and personal assistant

Verb, intransitive:
To take form or order

Verb, transitive:
Arrange or assemble a group of people, especially soldiers in order

  • Correctly position or arrange rolling stock
  • Guide or direct the movement of an aircraft on the ground at an airport
  • Arrange clearly

[Heraldry] Combine coats of arms, typically to indicate marriage, descent, or the bearing of office

[Legal] To fix the order of assets with respect to liability or availability for payment of obligations

  • To fix the order of 9as liens or remedies) with respect to priority against a debtor’s assets
The double-elled version is primarily British

(see marshal on the left)

Proper Noun:

(see marshal on the left)

Of or appropriate to war

  • Warlike
  • Associated with war or the armed forces

Characteristic of or befitting a warrior

Joachim Murat was a Marshal of France.

• chiefly historical a high-ranking officer of state.

Marshal Dillon was a character on Gunsmoke.

Deputy marshals are fully sworn state law enforcement officers with statewide authority.

Every state in the United States has a state fire marshal.

Louis Zamperini was elected as the 2015 Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade, but died before the event.

The judge, marshal supervisor, prosecutor and other participants develop a plan designed to anticipate the security needs during trial.

The next day federal marshals brought him back to Baltimore, where he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Verb, intransitive:
Her ideas were marshaled neatly.

Verb, transitive:
The general marshaled his troops.

He paused for a moment, as if marshaling his thoughts.

She carefully marshaled her thoughts before answering the question.

Both armies marshaled their forces for battle.

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.

The usual equipment of a marshaler is a reflecting safety vest, a helmet with acoustic earmuffs, and gloves or marshaling wands — handheld illuminated beacons.

Thus, when more than one different coat of arm is marshaled on a shield, through descent from heraldic heiresses, it was placed “quarterly”.

(add an extra “l” to marshal on the left)

Proper Noun:
John Marshall was a U.S. chief justice from 1801–35.

Thurgood Marshall was the first black justice appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

George Marshall initiated the Marshall Plan at the end of World War II.

Marshall Field started the department store named for himself in 1881.

Marshall McLuhan is known for “the medium is the message”.

(add an extra “l” to marshal on the left)

Martial bravery and prudence don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.

The ancient Romans were a martial people.

“It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” was a popular martial tune in World War I.

He affected a martial stride.

Martial arts are intended as a form of attack or self-defense.

Let’s hope we never experience martial law in the U.S.

Noun: marshalcy, marshaler, marshalling yard, marshalship, submarshal, undermarshal
Verb, transitive: remarshal, remarshaled, remarshaling
Noun: marshaller [British], marshalling yard
Verb, transitive: remarshalled [British], remarshalling [British]
Adjective: nonmartial
Adverb: martially
Noun: martialism, martialist, martialness
History of the Word:
Middle English denoting a high-ranking officer of state is from the Old French maréschal meaning blacksmith, commander, from the late Latin mariscalcus, from Germanic elements meaning horse and servant. Late Middle English from the Old French or from the Latin martialis, which is from Mars.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Spirit of ’76” was uploaded by Kevin Myers and brightened by Soerfm and “George Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze are both in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.