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 phalanx (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

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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 On a sunny if chilly morning, a phalanx of media lined the street across from the supermarket. David Kelly, Los Angeles Times, "When grocery shopping ends in death: Boulder mass shooting shatters town’s fragile peace," 23 Mar. 2021 This contemporary sports bar is connected to actual sports by more than just a phalanx of television screens permanently set to ESPN, there are also a half-dozen golf simulators on the premises. Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune, "36 Twin Cities restaurant patios for soaking up the warm weekend," 5 Mar. 2021 Instead, ordinary Afghans see a bristling phalanx of T-walls that turn the city’s streets into canyons of concrete. Washington Post, "How 20 years of conflict have reshaped Afghanistan’s capital and life in it," 25 Mar. 2021 While -core gets a lot of attention for helping define this phalanx of subgenres generated by social media users in recent years, there are plenty of style persuasions that don’t employ the suffix. Emily Ruane,, "From Cottage To Norm, We Breakdown Every Core Aesthetic," 11 Mar. 2021 On the other side of the country, in Olympia, Wash., dozens of National Guard troops in riot gear and shields formed a phalanx behind a temporary fence. New York Times, "State Capitols ‘on High Alert,’ Fearing More Violence," 11 Jan. 2021 Hundreds of tips and a phalanx of law enforcement officers helped determine that Anthony Quinn Warner triggered the bomb that rocked this city and took his life on Christmas morning. Mariah Timms, USA TODAY, "Nashville bombing: Authorities know Anthony Quinn Warner triggered the blast, but motive still a mystery," 29 Dec. 2020 Eating a Philly cheesesteak is an indication that a would-be president, who travels with a motorcade and a phalanx of security, is, in fact, a man (or imagine, one day, a woman) of the people. Josie Delap, The Economist, "World in a dish Why the Philly cheesesteak can swing a presidential election," 12 Oct. 2020 Operating rooms tend to be busy places, often bustling with not just the surgeon, but also a phalanx of aides, students, technical advisers and, yes, medical device sales reps. Riley Griffin,, "Operating Rooms Turn to Zoom-Like Technology for the Age of Covid," 7 Oct. 2020

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.

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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 entry 2

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The first known use of phalanx was in 1553

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Last Updated

21 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Phalanx.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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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

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