phalanx

noun
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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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 Adams and other lawmakers were flanked by a phalanx of faces familiar in the Utah pro-life community. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, 25 June 2022 The gunman was killed by a phalanx of law enforcement officers that included three Border Patrol Tactical Unit agents, a Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue agent and at least one sheriff’s deputy, The Post has previously reported. Teo Armus And Silvia Foster-frau, Anchorage Daily News, 2 June 2022 The gunman was killed by a phalanx of law enforcement officers that included three Border Patrol Tactical Unit agents, a Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue agent and at least one sheriff’s deputy, The Washington Post has previously reported. Silvia Foster-frau, Washington Post, 1 June 2022 Covered by flowers, the two closed caskets were borne by pallbearers past a phalanx of police in uniforms and priests in white robes. Adriana Gomez Licon And Jay Reeves, BostonGlobe.com, 1 June 2022 Next, a military parade was followed by a fleet of Morris Minors whizzing up the wide street to Buckingham Palace, tailed by a phalanx of motorcyclists riding vintage British bikes. Vogue, 5 June 2022 Covered by flowers, the two closed caskets were borne by pallbearers past a phalanx of police in uniforms and priests in white robes. Adriana Gomez Licon, Jay Reeves, Anchorage Daily News, 2 June 2022 Senate Republican leaders had warned colleagues before the confirmation fight to keep the proceedings civil and cordial, clearly worried that the sight of a phalanx of white Republican inquisitors would turn voters off in an election year. New York Times, 8 Apr. 2022 On Friday Smalls, 33, stood in front of a phalanx of reporters and television cameras in the red sweatsuit that had been his uniform during the campaign to unionize Amazon’s first warehouse in the United States. Washington Post, 1 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near phalanx

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Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Phalanx.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phalanx. Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for phalanx

phalanx

noun
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

More from Merriam-Webster on phalanx

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for phalanx

Nglish: Translation of phalanx for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about phalanx

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