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

Other Words from rank and file

rank-and-file \ ˌraŋk-​ᵊn-​ˈfī(-​ə)l How to pronounce rank and file (audio) \ adjective
rank and filer \ ˌraŋk-​ᵊn-​ˈfī-​lər How to pronounce rank and file (audio) \ 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 Musk spent much of Saturday on Twitter throwing out increasingly wild suggestions for the $37 billion company—scrap ads, abandon the San Francisco headquarters—adding to already sizeable consternation among Twitter rank and file. Abram Brown, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 Like, the rank and file of the committee were briefed late on this. NBC News, 3 July 2022 For Stubson, the Aug. 16 primary isn’t just about Cheney, but about where the rank and file of the state Republican Party stands as a whole. Los Angeles Times, 27 June 2022 The Republican Party’s rank and file became increasingly radical, and G.O.P. leaders appeared only too happy to follow them. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, 20 June 2022 The result was a legacy that was ignored, if not reviled, by the church establishment, but revered within the progressive Catholic rank and file. New York Times, 27 May 2022 The current glimmers of dissent among the Republican rank and file tend to be overshadowed by the religious passion with which most Republican officeholders genuflect in Trump’s direction. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 24 May 2022 The effort to unionize comes as a historically tight labor market, as well as worker unrest in some industries because of the pandemic, has shifted some power to rank and file employees. Sebastian Herrera, WSJ, 24 Apr. 2022 But as the Democratic rank and file’s thirst for a more combative attitude becomes increasingly evident, other party leaders are beginning to showcase an alternative tone, one that goes far more sharply at Republican attitudes and tactics. BostonGlobe.com, 6 July 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of rank and file

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About rank and file

Time Traveler for rank and file

Time Traveler

The first known use of rank and file was in 1598

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near rank and file


rank and file

rank badge

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for rank and file

Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Rank and file.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rank%20and%20file. Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for rank and file

rank and file


Legal Definition of rank and file

: the general membership of a union

More from Merriam-Webster on rank and file

Nglish: Translation of rank and file for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!