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

However, for the world’s most stylish (and famous) faces, being greeted by a phalanx of photographers upon arrival (or departure) is par for the course. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "These Celebs Nailed the Art of Airport Style This Year," 28 Nov. 2018 When Air Force One touched down at the airport outside Pittsburgh, the Trumps were not greeted by the usual phalanx of local officials that typically welcomes a visiting president, a reflection of controversy surrounding the visit. Zeke Miller, The Seattle Times, "Trumps pay tribute at synagogue where 11 were fatally shot," 31 Oct. 2018 And if that wall were a little bit higher, the Infiniti’s phalanx of sensors would’ve hit the brakes. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "It's Not Just Human Drivers—Machines Have Blind Spots, Too," 21 Sep. 2018 Their study focused on how much the head of the metatarsal protrudes toward the top of the foot, sticking out above the shaft of the bone like a dome, at the joint with the phalanx (one of the bones that makes up the toes) at the base of the toe. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "The road to bipedalism wasn’t straight and narrow," 15 Aug. 2018 Photo by Mark Lamster Riverside South, New York, NY, 1998-2005 An utterly banal phalanx of towers on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, built for Donald Trump. Mark Lamster, Curbed, "Arbiter of taste, enfant terrible: The best and worst of Philip Johnson," 6 Nov. 2018 The far-right rallygoers marched in the middle of the street, surrounded by a phalanx of police, while counter-protesters heckled them from the sidewalks on either side. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "'Unite the Right' march triggers tension, Antifa clashes, hundreds of counterprotesters," 13 Aug. 2018 The Chilean government, facing skyrocketing rates of obesity, is waging war on unhealthy foods with a phalanx of marketing restrictions, mandatory packaging redesigns and labeling rules aimed at transforming the eating habits of 18 million people. Andrew Jacobs, New York Times, "In Sweeping War on Obesity, Chile Slays Tony the Tiger," 7 Feb. 2018 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

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

9 Jan 2019

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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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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

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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