pha·lanx | \ˈfā-ˌlaŋ(k)s, British usually ˈfa-\
plural phalanxes or phalanges\fə-ˈlan-(ˌ)jēz, 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

As Pell walked from the building on bail, through a phalanx of police officers there to protect him, he was jeered. A. Odysseus Patrick, Washington Post, "Cardinal George Pell will face trial on sex-offense charges," 1 May 2018 His name was revealed four days after his mother presented him on Monday to a phalanx of reporters and photographers outside the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in the Paddington neighborhood of London. Ceylan Yeginsu, New York Times, "Louis Arthur Charles: The British Royal Baby’s Name Is Revealed," 27 Apr. 2018 During a ceremony that lasted about 15 minutes, the president, who at times appeared not to know where exactly to look or walk, shifted his gaze between news cameras and the monarch, who stood before a phalanx of her guards. Katie Rogers, New York Times, "From Truman to Trump, Queen Elizabeth Has Met 12 U.S. Presidents," 13 July 2018 During the last several years, Rémy Martin enlisted a phalanx of stars such as Timbaland, Mustard, Zaytoven, Mike WiLL Made-It and Wyclef Jean to discover the next big music producer. Carl Lamarre, Billboard, "Big Sean on Joining Rèmy Martin's Producer Series, Kanye Making Beats Again & Why Pharrell Is 'On the Rushmore of Music'," 5 July 2018 The industry has a phalanx of lawyers to push their case in court, and is effective at charming Congress with lobbyists and celebrity star power. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "Why Spotify Will Never Make Money," 3 May 2018 Opening his royal checkbook, the king told his engineers to get to work creating a phalanx of thirteen huge trebuchets just outside the walls of Stirling castle. William Gurstelle, Popular Mechanics, "The Legend of Ludgar the War Wolf, King of the Trebuchets," 1 May 2017 Chambers is part of a phalanx of veterans advocating for recognition of cannabis as a safe and effective painkiller to relieve the mental aches and physical wounds of war. Patrik Jonsson, The Christian Science Monitor, "As war vets enter the fray, stigma lessens around cannabis," 5 July 2018 On Saturday, Garcia, executive director of Annunciation House, watched as a large white bus emblazoned with the emblem of the Department of Homeland Security lurched to a stop in front of a phalanx of reporters and volunteers. NBC News, "Here's how hard it is to find a migrant kid who has been separated from his mom," 25 June 2018

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

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Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

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The first known use of phalanx was in 1553

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English Language Learners Definition of phalanx

: 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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a state of commotion or excitement

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