[ mahr-shuhl ]
/ ˈmɑr ʃəl /
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inclined or disposed to war; warlike: The ancient Romans were a martial people.
of, suitable for, or associated with war or the armed forces: martial music.
characteristic of or befitting a warrior: a martial stride.



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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Origin of martial

1325–75; Middle English <Latin Mārtiālis of, belonging to Mars, equivalent to Mārti- (stem of Mārs) + -ālis-al1



marshal, marital, martial

Definition for martial (2 of 2)

[ mahr-shuhl ]
/ ˈmɑr ʃəl /


Marcus Valerius Martialis, a.d. 43?–104?, Roman epigrammatist, born in Spain.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does martial mean?

Martial means relating to war, combat, or military life. It’s most commonly used in the phrases martial arts, martial law, and court-martial.

Less commonly, martial can mean warlike or characteristic of a warrior.

Example: Most marches originated as martial music that was used to help soldiers march.

Where does martial come from?

The first records of martial come from the 1300s. It derives from the Latin Mārtiālis, referring to Mars, the god of war in Roman mythology.

Sometimes, martial means “inclined or disposed to war,” such as when it’s applied to notoriously warlike societies, like the ancient Spartans, the Vikings, or the Mongols under Genghis Khan.

More commonly, martial is used in a general way to describe something that has to do with war or combat. Martial arts are the traditional forms of Asian self-defense or combat, such as karate and kung fu. Martial law refers to a situation in which military forces are used to temporarily keep order in an area when civil authority has broken down. A courtmartial is a military court in which soldiers are tried for violating military law.

Martial should not be confused with its homophone marshal, which is the title of a high-ranking military officer.

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What are some other forms related to martial?

  • martialism (noun)
  • martialist (noun)
  • martially (adverb)
  • martialness (noun)

What are some synonyms for martial?

What are some words that share a root or word element with martial

What are some words that often get used in discussing martial?



What are some words martial may be commonly confused with?

How is martial used in real life?

Martial is most commonly used in phrases that refer to combat, like martial arts, or the military, like martial law and court-martial.

Try using martial!

True or False?

The words martial and marshal are synonyms.

Example sentences from the Web for martial

British Dictionary definitions for martial (1 of 3)

/ (ˈmɑːʃəl) /


of, relating to, or characteristic of war, soldiers, or the military life

Derived forms of martial

martialism, nounmartialist, nounmartially, adverbmartialness, noun

Word Origin for martial

C14: from Latin martiālis of Mars 1

British Dictionary definitions for martial (2 of 3)

/ (ˈmɑːʃəl) /


of or relating to Mars

British Dictionary definitions for martial (3 of 3)

/ (ˈmɑːʃəl) /


full name Marcus Valerius Martialis. ?40–?104 ad, Latin epigrammatist and poet, born in Spain
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