pha·​lanx | \ ˈfā-ˌlaŋ(k)s How to pronounce phalanx (audio) , British usually ˈfa-\
plural phalanxes or phalanges\ fə-​ˈlan-​(ˌ)jēz How to pronounce phalanges (audio) , fā-​ , ˈfā-​ˌ , British usually  fa-​ \

Definition of phalanx

1 : a body of heavily armed infantry in ancient Greece formed in close deep ranks and files broadly : a body of troops in close array
2 plural phalanges : one of the digital bones of the hand or foot of a vertebrate

3 plural usually phalanxes

a : a massed arrangement of persons, animals, or things a phalanx of armed guards
b : an organized body of persons a phalanx of lawyers

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

The original sense of "phalanx" refers to a military formation that was used in ancient warfare and consisted of a tight block of soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder, several rows deep, often with shields joined. The word phalanx comes from the Greeks, though they were not the only ones who used this formation. The Greek term literally means "log" and was used for both this line of battle and for a bone in a finger or toe. The word and its senses passed into Latin and then were adopted into English in the 16th century. These days, a "phalanx" can be any arranged mass, whether of persons, animals, or things, or a body of people organized in a particular effort.

Examples of phalanx in a Sentence

A solid phalanx of armed guards stood in front of the castle. She had to go through a phalanx of television cameras.

Recent Examples on the Web

The clinic has a phalanx of interpreters who help work with patients who speak Arabic, Russian or the Ethiopian languages of Amharic and Tigrinya. Larry Luxner,, "Israel’s student-run health clinic provides care for all and it’s free," 26 June 2019 China’s stink bug phalanxes might not be quite so sci-fi in their killing. Gwynn Guilford, Quartz, "Ravenous armyworms are eating their way across China," 20 June 2019 Smiling broadly, Netanyahu faced a phalanx of cameras in the courthouse before the session got under way. NBC News, "Sara Netanyahu sentenced for misusing state funds in meals catering case," 16 June 2019 At that moment, Fernando Tatis Jr. was facing a phalanx of media and talking about his return to the major leagues. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Fernando Tatis Jr. returns to Padres, ready to be team’s ‘crazy horse’," 7 June 2019 His driver — Mickelson hit only two fairways the final round — bounced off a hospitality tent, well left of the fairway and behind a phalanx of trees that blocked his path to the green. Eddie Pells, The Denver Post, "Pebble Beach gives Phil Mickelson last, best chance at elusive U.S. Open," 7 June 2019 Norcross has hired a phalanx of high-powered attorneys who have filed a lawsuit challenging the task force’s authority. Nancy Solomon, ProPublica, "The Tax Break Application Had a False Answer. Now the State Has Put the Break on Hold.," 4 June 2019 Who's to say the soundtrack to her vision of a victorious France wasn't a phalanx of shredded guitars and gnarly drum solos? Robert Abele,, "Bruno Dumont's 'Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc' riffs on future saint as proto-punk," 3 May 2018 Gwyneth gamely sat down at the Simon G. ear-piercing station and got not one but two new ones before a phalanx of professional and amateur photographers. Elizabeth Nicholas, Vogue, "The Top Takeaways from 2019’s In Goop Health Summit," 12 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'phalanx.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of phalanx

1553, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for phalanx

Latin phalang-, phalanx, from Greek, battle line, digital bone, literally, log — more at balk

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about phalanx

Statistics for phalanx

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for phalanx

The first known use of phalanx was in 1553

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for phalanx



English Language Learners Definition of phalanx

formal : a large group of people, animals, or things often placed close together


pha·​lanx | \ ˈfā-ˌlaŋ(k)s, British usually ˈfal-ˌaŋ(k)s\
plural phalanges\ fə-​ˈlan-​(ˌ)jēz, fā-​, ˈfā-​ˌ, British usually fal-​ˈan-​ \

Medical Definition of phalanx

: any of the digital bones of the hand or foot distal to the metacarpus or metatarsus of a vertebrate that in humans are three to each finger and toe with the exception of the thumb and big toe which have only two each

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on phalanx

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with phalanx

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for phalanx

Nglish: Translation of phalanx for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about phalanx

Comments on phalanx

What made you want to look up phalanx? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!