noun, plural phyla [fahy-luh] .
Biology. the primary subdivision of a taxonomic kingdom, grouping together all classes of organisms that have the same body plan.
Linguistics. a category consisting of language stocks that, because of cognates in vocabulary, are considered likely to be related by common origin. Compare stock ( def 13 ).

1875–80; < Neo-Latin < Greek phŷlon tribe, stock; see phylon

phylar, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
phylum (ˈfaɪləm)
n , pl -la
1.  a major taxonomic division of living organisms that contain one or more classes. An example is the phylum Arthropoda (insects, crustaceans, arachnids, etc, and myriapods)
2.  any analogous group, such as a group of related language families or linguistic stocks
[C19: New Latin, from Greek phulon race]

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Word Origin & History

"division of the plant or animal kingdom," 1876, from Mod.L., coined by Fr. naturalist Georges Léopole Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert, Baron Cuvier (1769-1832) from Gk. phylon "race, stock," related to phyle "tribe, clan," and phylein "bring forth" (see physic).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

phylum phy·lum (fī'ləm)
n. pl. phy·la (-lə)
A taxonomic category that is a primary division of a kingdom and ranks above a class in size.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
phylum   (fī'ləm)  Pronunciation Key 
Plural phyla
A group of organisms ranking above a class and below a kingdom. See Table at taxonomy.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
phylum [(feye-luhm)]

plur. phyla

One of the major divisions of the kingdoms of living things; the second-largest standard unit of biological classification. The arthropods, chordates, and mollusks are phyla. Phyla in the plant kingdom are frequently called divisions. (See Linnean classification.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Especially since they've already decided on the answer to that question, according to political party and/or phylum.
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