'Martial' vs 'Marital': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on August 19, 2023

Do you need to know whether to use 'martial' vs. 'marital?' If so, read this.

The short answer:

  • 'Martial' is an adjective that means relating to or about war, military life, the Army, or warriors. 
  • 'Marital' is an adjective relating to or about marriage, the state of being married, or the duties of marriage. 

Learn more about these terms in this guide with definitions, pronunciations, and sample sentences.

What is the Difference Between 'Martial' vs. 'Marital?'

'Martial' and 'marital' have similar spellings. However, they have different meanings and pronunciations.

The first word is an adjective that relates to war or wartimes. The latter term is also an adjective. However, it refers to marriage or the roles of married people.

Definition of 'Martial': What is the meaning of 'Martial?'

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the meaning of the adjective 'martial' is:

  • Relating to or suited for war or being a warrior

It can also mean:

  • Relating to the Army or military life
  • Warlike
  • Having experience as a soldier
  • Having expertise in wartimes or being inclined to war

Synonyms of 'Martial'

  • Military
  • Guerilla
  • Warlike
  • Combative
  • Militaristic
  • Militant
  • Scrappy
  • Mercenary
  • Pugnacious
  • Belligerent
  • Argumentive
  • Fierce

Terms and Phrases Related to 'Martial'

  • Martial law
  • Martial arts

Definition of 'Marital': What is the meaning of 'Marital?'

The same defines the adjective 'marital' as:

  • Of or relating to the state of being married

It can also mean:

  • Of or relating to marriage
  • In the archaic form, of or relating to the role or duties of a husband in a marriage

Synonyms of 'Marital'

  • Wedded
  • Conjugal
  • Matched
  • Committed
  • Matrimonial
  • Betrothed
  • Promised
  • Nuptial
  • Prenuptial
  • Wifely
  • Affianced

Terms and Phrases Related to 'Marital'

  • Marital bliss
  • Marital bed
  • Marital vows
  • Marital altar

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Martial' vs. 'Marital'

You know the definitions and differences between 'martial' vs. 'marital,' so let's examine how you pronounce these terms. You must correctly pronounce words like these because they are so similar that people may confuse your meaning if your pronunciation is inaccurate.

So, here is a pronunciation guide that you can reference.

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'martial':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'marital':


As you can see, despite these words having similar spellings, their pronunciations are quite different.

Tips on When and How to Use 'Martial' vs. 'Marital'

Now that you understand the meanings of these words, here are some tips on when and how to use them.

  • Use 'martial' to describe something related to war, or that imposes warlike conditions.

For example, you might hear someone say:

During natural disasters and emergencies, martial law is sometimes enacted. 

  • Use 'martial' to describe a noun.

So, you could say something like:

I enrolled in a martial arts class last year after someone tried to mug me.

  • Use 'marital' to describe something related to marriage.

As an example, you could say:

My sister wrote her marital vows, which were so beautiful that I started crying like a baby.

  • Use 'marital' to describe a noun relating to marriage or married life.

For example, you might hear someone say:

We married last year and have been in an intoxicating state of marital bliss ever since.

Sample Sentences Using 'Martial' vs. 'Marital'

Before you go, read these sample sentences using 'martial' vs. 'marital.' They will help you remember the meanings and how to use these terms.


  • The soldiers in our unit had martial discipline because our leaders were strict and demanding.
  • People often fear martial law because it gives the military the power to act as though there is an active war.
  • The instructor teaches several types of martial arts, including Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Karate, and Aikido.
  • The war heroes adhere to the martial code, a set of rules they must follow during a battle or war.
  • At times martial law is necessary to keep people safe. However, many people are fearful of military control.
  • I missed my martial arts class the other day because I had too much work to do.


  • I hope that your marital union is blessed with happiness and prosperity.
  • Marital vows are essential to a wedding, but surprisingly many people borrow them instead of writing something heartfelt.
  • The couple was married on a marital altar decorated with several different colors of roses.
  • Where will you celebrate your marital union? Will you go on a vacation to a faraway place or stay close to home?
  • Some people choose to use standard marital vows, but it is nice to write your own.
  • We plan to say our marital vows in a private ceremony on an exotic beach. Then, we will have a wedding reception with our friends and family at home.


  • Martial law would ruin a marital party.
  • Proofread your wedding invitations so you do not accidentally ask your guests to celebrate your martial union instead of your marital union.

Review of the Difference Between 'Martial' vs. 'Marital'

Comparing the difference between 'martial' vs. 'marital' is an excellent example of how two English words can have similar spellings and pronunciations but completely different meanings.

Here is a quick recap: 

  • 'Martial' is an adjective that relates a noun to war, war practices, warriors, or wartime behavior. 
  • 'Marital' is also an adjective, but it relates a noun to marriage or the responsibilities or expectations of marriage. 

Hopefully, you will remember the difference between these two terms, but if you need help, you can always come back for a quick review of this lesson.

You can also learn about other confusing words, idioms, grammar rules, and other topics here. Each guide contains a short and detailed explanation of the topic and definitions, pronunciations, grammar rules, and sample sentences.

If you need to verify the accuracy of a term, you can do a quick check. But if you want to improve your vocabulary and learn grammar rules and writing tips, you can read through some of the guides to improve your English language and writing skills.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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