late 14c., "warlike, of or pertaining to war," from Medieval Latin martialis "of Mars or war," from Latin Mars (genitive Martis), Roman god of war (see Mars). The sense of "connected with military organizations" (opposed to civil) is from late 15c. and survives in court-martial. Also, occasionally (with a capital M-), "pertaining to or resembling the planet Mars" (1620s). Related: Martially. Martial law, "military rule over civilians," first recorded 1530s. Martial arts (1909) as a collective name for the fighting sports of Japan and the surrounding region translates Japanese bujutsu.
updated on November 28, 2018