rank and file


Definition of rank and file 

1 : the enlisted personnel of an armed force

2 : the individuals who constitute the body of an organization, society, or nation as distinguished from the leaders

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Other Words from rank and file

rank-and-file \ ˌraŋk-​ᵊn-​ˈfī(-​ə)l \ adjective
rank and filer \ ˌraŋk-​ᵊn-​ˈfī-​lər \ noun

Examples of rank and file in a Sentence

the chosen few might have the opportunity for a trip in the space shuttle, but it will be a while before the rank and file are taking space trips

Recent Examples on the Web

Six weeks ago, Best was excluded from a list of three finalists presented to Mayor Jenny Durkan, enraging her supporters in the community and the union representing the department’s rank and file. Steve Miletich, The Seattle Times, "How the deal likely to make Carmen Best chief of Seattle police came together," 9 July 2018 That’s because rank and file GOP lawmakers hold clashing views on immigration. Sarah Binder, Washington Post, "Immigration boiled over last week. Here’s what Congress did — and why.," 25 June 2018 The belief that Ryan’s views are significantly different than those of his House GOP rank and file is equally mystifying. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Paul Ryan’s Suicide Mission," 13 Feb. 2018 The topic is divisive among the party’s rank and file. The Economist, "A culture war comes to Westminster," 5 July 2018 Such performance improvement plans, dreaded among Amazon's rank and file, come with a requirement that employees demonstrate improvement over a set period of time. The Seattle Times, OregonLive.com, "Amazon sheds hundreds of corporate jobs in rare cutback," 12 Feb. 2018 Shiites also made up the rank and file of the country’s regular security forces. Isabel Coles And, WSJ, "After Defeating Islamic State, Iraq’s Shiites Turn Ire Toward Government," 12 Mar. 2018 When Cook retired, a union survey found that the vast majority of the rank and file wanted their new leader to come from outside the department. Rachel Weiner, Washington Post, "Shake-up exposes rift in Alexandria police department over discipline," 14 May 2018 The divide between union leaders and the rank and file is real, in western Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Trip Gabriel, New York Times, "My Union or My President? Dueling Loyalties Mark Pennsylvania Race," 11 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rank and file.' 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 rank and file

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

23 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for rank and file

The first known use of rank and file was in 1598

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rank and file


Legal Definition of rank and file 

: the general membership of a union

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something that serves to warn or remind

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