- Anything to do with the water.
- Naval infantry, such as a U.S. Marine or Royal Marine Commando.
15th century. From the Latin word, mare, meaning the sea. Then via Old French and Anglo-Norse.
The adjective is fairly self-explanatory. The U.S. Marine Corps was founded in 1775. The Royal Marines trace their origins back to 1664, but they were brought under the control of the Admiralty in 1755 and became known as the Royal Marines in 1802.
From my layman’s understanding, both the U.S. Marines and Royal Marines have amphibious and expeditionary warfare capabilities. However, the U.S. Marine Corps is obviously larger and more geared towards being naval infantry and having combined arms capabilities. In contrast, the Royal Marines are smaller and specialize in commando-style operations (hence the term Royal Marine Commando).
Kemp, P. (1994). The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea. Oxford University Press.
King, D., Hattendorf, J.B, & Estes, J.W. (1997). A Sea of Words: A Lexicon and Companion for Patrick O’Brian’s Seafaring Tales (2nd Ed.). Owl Books.
Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic Seaport.