Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Financial, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to federal: Federal Reserve, Federal Express


Relating to the general government or union of the states; based upon, or created pursuant to, the laws of the Constitution of the United States.

The United States has traditionally been named a federal government in most political and judicial writings. The term federal has not been prescribed by any definite authority but is used to express a broad opinion concerning the nature of the form of government.

A recent tendency has been to use the term national in place of federal to denote the government of the Union. Neither settles any question regarding the nature of authority of the government.

The term federal is generally considered to be more appropriate if the government is to be viewed as a union of the states. National is used to reflect the view that individual state governments and the Union as a whole are two distinct and separate systems, each of which is established directly by the population for local and national purposes, respectively.

In a more general sense, federal is ordinarily used to refer to a league or compact between two or more states to become joined under one central government.


adjective allied, associated, banded, central, combined, confederate, federate, federative, foederatus, foedere sociatus, governmental, joined in a union, joint, leagued, merged, national, united
Associated concepts: federal aid, federal common law, feddral Constitution, federal courts, federal government, federal jurisdiction, federal law, federal offense, federal question, federal regulation, federal rights
See also: collective, mutual, national, public
References in periodicals archive ?
The Federal Reserve Banks announced on June 28, 2005, changes to cash services that are intended to improve operating effectiveness by providing cash services at some locations using different distribution methods.
Until the Federal government follows the lead of these states, the compliance gymnastics described below will persist.
When the state refused to back down, federal attorneys told the board members to stop attending meetings, at least until the dispute is resolved.
The government nevertheless prosecuted Hanousek, a federal jury convicted him, and he received a sentence of six months in prison, six months in a halfway house, six months of post-release supervision, and a $5,000 fine.
IN THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED September 30, 1998, federal executive branch agencies for the first time prepared financial statements in accordance with a comprehensive set of federal accounting principles.
In the immediate aftershock of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Congress passed a torrent of legislation granting unprecedented new powers to the federal government.
There are about 400,000 federal workers and retirees in the D.
Given its failure, a national dialogue about the need for some kind of federal option for insurers--one that could operate simultaneously with the state system, analogous in some ways to the current dual banking system--is developing.
The conservatives' strategy has resulted in diametrically opposed decisions by different judges over the federal government's authority to regulate activities affecting many of the nation's wetlands.
Rather than creating and enforcing new laws, this program takes advantage of existing federal laws and prosecutes suspects in federal courts, which can prove advantageous because federal courts can apply more stringent bond rules and sentencing guidelines than state courts.

Full browser ?