Columns » Words

Words

by and

comment

Matt Dillon used marshal arts:

“The Sunday evening meetings always had some inspirational topic as a theme. Arguments were martialed by such groups as The Christian Board of Publication, the Epworth League or the Moody Bible Institute ― ‘the West Point of Christian Service.’ ”

The verb that means “to arrange in proper order” and “to array, as for battle” is marshal. Martial is an adjective that means “associated with war or the armed forces,” as in martial arts and martial music. It’s derived from the name of Mars, the Roman god of war. Marshal and martial are pronounced the same, and one is often confused with the other.

To cloud the issue even further, marshal is also a noun applied to various sorts of officials. A country’s highest-ranking military commander or the commander of a particular branch of the military can be a marshal. In the U.S., a marshal can be one who carries out federal court orders, or a local law enforcement officer, or a municipal functionary (as in fire marshal) or the head of a parade. Whether noun or verb, marshal is usually spelled with one l in this country. The British use two.

Transpose two letters, a snap for some of us, and martial becomes marital (“pertaining to marriage”). Although pronounced differently, the two are sometimes confused in print.

Our mention of a Sioux chef (July 13) caused Bill Womack of Tumbling Shoals to remember a classified ad that appeared in a weekly newspaper at Heber Springs about 25 years ago.

“It said a farmer was offering ‘winged calves for sale,’ ” Womack writes. “To this day, I can’t get out of my mind what a few winged calves could do to a car lot.” It wouldn’t be pretty.

“Current AAA Executive Director Lance Taylor rebukes those claims and says his organization has a firm legal standing behind the multiplier decision.” I think rebukes are reserved for people. Claims are rebutted or refuted.

Add a comment

Clicky