- (in ancient Greece) a group of heavily armed infantry formed in ranks and files close and deep, with shields joined and long spears overlapping.
- any body of troops in close array.
- a number of individuals, especially persons united for a common purpose.
- a compact or closely massed body of persons, animals, or things.
- Military. (initial capital letter) a radar-controlled U.S. Navy 20mm Gatling-type gun deployed on ships as a last line of defense against antiship cruise missiles.
- (in Fourierism) a group of about 1800 persons, living together and holding their property in common.
- Anatomy, Zoology. any of the bones of the fingers or toes.
- Printing. to arrange the distribution of work in a shop as evenly as possible.
Origin of phalanx
Examples from the Web for phalanx
A phalanx of cops formed behind them as they started across.Eric Garner Was Just a Number to Them
December 5, 2014
A phalanx of money-changers runs between the shops, converting Pakistani rupees to Afghan afghanis to U.S. dollars on the fly.Heart of Darkness: Into Afghanistan’s Taliban Valley
Matt Trevithick, Daniel Seckman
November 15, 2014
Who can forget the indelible images of that White Bronco being chased by a phalanx of cop cars on June 17, 1994?Football, Crime, and Allegations Against Aaron Hernandez
June 21, 2013
I was among more than a hundred protestors from Occupy L.A., and facing a phalanx of police with riot equipment.A Year On: Occupy L.A. And God
September 28, 2012
Their carefully scripted words, examined beforehand no doubt by a phalanx of spinmeisters, were barely above a monotone.Buzz Bissinger: Ban Penn State Football!
July 13, 2012
Our housekeeping is not satisfactory to us, but perhaps a phalanx, a community, might be.Essays, Second Series
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nicotine stain on right forefinger, extending to middle of second phalanx.A Book of Burlesques
H. L. Mencken
A dark mass approaches—a phalanx of horns and streaming manes.The Western World
The phalanx ground to a halt, received the charge on the hedge of sarissas.
The Tulan phalanx moved slowly, obliquely across the valley.
- an ancient Greek and Macedonian battle formation of hoplites presenting long spears from behind a wall of overlapping shields
- any closely ranked unit or mass of peoplethe police formed a phalanx to protect the embassy
- a number of people united for a common purpose
- (in Fourierism) a group of approximately 1800 persons forming a commune in which all property is collectively owned
- anatomy any of the bones of the fingers or toesRelated adjective: phalangeal
- a bundle of stamens, joined together by their stalks (filaments)
- a form of vegetative spread in which the advance is on a broad front, as in the common reedCompare guerrilla
Word Origin and History for phalanx
1550s, "line of battle in close ranks," from Latin phalanx "compact body of heavily armed men in battle array," or directly from Greek phalanx (genitive phalangos) "line of battle, battle array," also "finger or toe bone," originally "round piece of wood, trunk, log," of unknown origin. Perhaps from PIE root *bhelg- "plank, beam" (cf. Old English balca "balk;" see balk (n.)). The Macedonian phalanx consisted of 50 close files of 16 men each. In anatomy, originally the whole row of finger joints, which fit together like infantry in close order. Figurative sense of "number of persons banded together in a common cause" is attested from 1600 (cf. Spanish Falangist, member of a fascist organization founded in 1933).
- Any of the long bones of the fingers or toes, numbering 14 for each hand or foot: two for the thumb or big toe, and three each for the other four digits.
- Any of the small bones of the fingers or toes in humans or the digits of many other vertebrates.