A federal marshal knocks on your door. You panic: a marshal is a law officer. What do you do? You marshal your thoughts, that is, put them in order.

Marshal derives from the Old French mareschal, for stable officer. The stable officer had charge of the horses, tending to them, putting them in order, readying them for action. If you are a marshal, you're an officer. If you marshal yourself, you get yourself ready, preparing for action.

Definitions of marshal
  1. noun
    (in some countries) a military officer of highest rank
    synonyms: marshall
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    Baron Hugh Caswall Tremenheere Dowding
    British marshal of the RAF who commanded the British air defense forces that defeated the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain (1882-1970)
    Sir Arthur Travers Harris
    British marshal of the Royal Air Force; during World War II he directed mass bombing raids against German cities that resulted in heavy civilian casualties (1892-1984)
    Duc d'Elchingen
    French marshal in the Napoleonic Wars (1769-1815)
    Hermann Maurice Saxe
    a French marshal who distinguished himself in the War of the Austrian Succession (1696-1750)
    Paul Ludwig von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg
    German field marshal and statesman; as president of the Weimar Republic he reluctantly appointed Hitler as chancellor in 1933 (1847-1934)
    Joseph Jacques Cesaire Joffre
    French field marshal who commanded the Allied armies in France during World War II (1852-1931)
    First Earl Kitchener of Khartoum
    British field marshal (1850-1916)
    Mikhail Ilarionovich Kutuzov
    Russian field marshal who commanded the Russian opposition to Napoleon (1745-1813)
    Erwin Rommel
    German field marshal noted for brilliant generalship in North Africa during World War II (1891-1944)
    Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt
    German field marshal in World War II who directed the conquest of Poland and led the Ardennes counteroffensive (1875-1953)
    Archibald Percival Wavell
    British field marshal in North Africa in World War II; he defeated the Italians before being defeated by the Germans (1883-1950)
    field marshal
    an officer holding the highest rank in the army
    type of:
    commissioned military officer
    a commissioned officer in the Army or Air Force or Marine Corps
  2. noun
    a law officer having duties similar to those of a sheriff in carrying out the judgments of a court of law
    synonyms: marshall
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    James Butler Hickock
    frontier marshal whose adventures have become legendary (1837-1876)
    air marshal, sky marshal
    a person trained by the government in hijacking and terrorist tactics who (for security reasons) is a passenger aboard an airline flight
    type of:
    law officer, lawman, peace officer
    an officer of the law
  3. verb
    place in proper rank
    marshal the troops”
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    type of:
    lay, place, pose, position, put, set
    put into a certain place or abstract location
  4. verb
    arrange in logical order
    marshal facts or arguments”
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    type of:
    arrange, set up
    put into a proper or systematic order
  5. verb
    make ready for action or use
    marshal resources”
    synonyms: mobilise, mobilize, summon
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    type of:
    collect, garner, gather, pull together
    assemble or get together
  6. verb
    lead ceremoniously, as in a procession
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    type of:
    show, usher
    take (someone) to their seats, as in theaters or auditoriums
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