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[fey-langks, fal-angks] /ˈfeɪ læŋks, ˈfæl æŋks/
noun, plural phalanxes or for 7, phalanges
[fuh-lan-jeez] /fəˈlæn dʒiz/ (Show IPA)
(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.
verb (used without object)
Printing. to arrange the distribution of work in a shop as evenly as possible.
Origin of phalanx
1545-55; < Latin < Greek phálanx military formation, bone of finger or toe, wooden roller Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for phalanx
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The phalanx exterminated all the remaining Barbarians at leisure.

    Salammbo Gustave Flaubert
  • Our housekeeping is not satisfactory to us, but perhaps a phalanx, a community, might be.

    Essays, Second Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Adrian Sicler declares in 1639, a notorious villain who met his fate on the wheel had this awful sign on the first phalanx.

  • Besides the phalanx and the bodies of Gauls, there was a troop of elephants in Antigonus's army.

    Pyrrhus Jacob Abbott
  • Mr. Owen called at the office of the phalanx, the organ of Brisbane, and was received with distinction.

    History of American Socialisms John Humphrey Noyes
British Dictionary definitions for phalanx


noun (pl) phalanxes, phalanges (fæˈlændʒiːz)
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 people: the 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 toes related adjective phalangeal
  1. a bundle of stamens, joined together by their stalks (filaments)
  2. a form of vegetative spread in which the advance is on a broad front, as in the common reed Compare guerrilla
Word Origin
C16: via Latin from Greek: infantry formation in close ranks, bone of finger or toe
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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phalanx in Medicine

phalanx pha·lanx (fā'lāngks', fāl'āngks')
n. pl. pha·lanx·es or pha·lan·ges (fə-lān'jēz, fā-)
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.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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phalanx in Science
Plural phalanges (fə-lān'jēz)
Any of the small bones of the fingers or toes in humans or the digits of many other vertebrates.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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