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mar·shal / ˈmärshəl/ • n. 1. an officer of the highest rank in the armed forces of some countries, including France. ∎  chiefly hist. a high-ranking officer of state. 2. a federal or municipal law officer. ∎  the head of a police department. ∎  the head of a fire department. 3. an official responsible for supervising public events, esp. sports events or parades. • v. (-shaled , -shal·ing ; chiefly Brit. -shalled, -shal·ling) [tr.] 1. arrange or assemble (a group of people, esp. soldiers) in order: the general marshaled his troops | fig. he paused for a moment, as if marshaling his thoughts. ∎  [tr.] guide or usher (someone) ceremoniously: guests were marshaled into position. ∎  [tr.] correctly position or arrange (rolling stock). ∎  [tr.] guide or direct the movement of (an aircraft) on the ground at an airport. 2. Heraldry combine (coats of arms), typically to indicate marriage, descent, or the bearing of office. DERIVATIVES: mar·shal·er n. mar·shal·ship / ship/ n. ORIGIN: 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 mare1 ) and ‘servant.’

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marshal. One of the great medieval offices of state. The marshal developed as deputy to the constable and had responsibility for the horses. He then picked up a number of additional duties, including keeping records of military service and adjusting disputes over precedence. From these duties derived the supervision of heraldry and of the College of Arms, and the organization of coronations, which remain among the duties of the earl marshal. In the reign of Henry I, the position was held by the Fitzgilberts. The fourth holder, William Marshal, was created earl of Pembroke and became so great a man in John's reign that the office increased in importance. It then descended via the Bigods and the Mowbrays to the Howards, and from 1483 has stayed with the dukes of Norfolk, save for the period 1572 to 1672. In Scotland, the comparable office developed in the 12th cent. and became hereditary in the Keith family from c.1290. From 1458 they possessed the title earl marischal. The last Earl Marischal supported the Jacobite cause, fought at Sheriffmuir, and was deprived of all his honours in 1716.

J. A. Cannon

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A federal court officer whose job entails maintaining the peace, delivering legal papers, and performing duties similar to those of a state sheriff.

The term marshal originated in Old english law, where it was used to describe a variety of law enforcement officers with responsibilities to the courts and the king or queen. In contemporary

U.S. law, it refers primarily to the chief law officers for the federal courts (28 U.S.C.A. §§ 561 et seq.). U.S. marshals execute federal laws within the states under the instructions of the courts. Their chief duty is to enforce legal orders; they have no independent authority to question whether a judge is right or wrong. Their responsibilities include delivering writs and processes and carrying out other orders, which range from making arrests to holding property in the custody of the court. Marshals may exercise the same powers as a state sheriff.

The chain of command for U.S. marshals begins in the White House. The president appoints to a four-year term one marshal for each judicial district. Each appointment is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Once an appointment is confirmed, the president retains the power to remove the marshal at any time. In the justice department, the U.S. attorney general designates where each marshal's office is located. Each marshal appoints her or his own deputies and staff, with salaries based on schedules in federal law.

At the state and local levels, the term marshal is also used to describe police officers whose job is similar to that of a constable or sheriff. It can also denote the head of a city police or fire department.

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marshal high officer of state, of the army, † of a court, in charge of ceremonies XIII; † farrier XIV. — OF. mareschal (mod. maréchal):- Frankish L. mariscalcus — Gmc. *marχaskalkaz (OHG. marahscalh), f. *marχaz horse (see MARE1) + *skalkaz (OE. sċealc) servant. For the sense-development cf. constable.
Hence vb. XV.