rank and file

noun
1.
the members of a group or organization apart from its leaders or officers.
2.
rank1 ( def 7a ).

Origin:
1590–1600

rank-and-file, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
rank and file
 
n
1.  the ordinary soldiers of an army, excluding the officers
2.  the great mass or majority of any group or organization, as opposed to the leadership
3.  (modifier) of, relating to, or characteristic of the rank and file: rank-and-file opinion; rank-and-file support
 
rank and filer
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

rank and file definition


The people who form the major portion of any group or organization, excluding the leaders: “The rumors of corruption at the top disturbed the party's rank and file.” This phrase comes from military usage, where enlisted men march in ranks (close abreast) and files (one behind another), whereas officers march outside these formations.

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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Slang Dictionary

rank and file definition


  1. n.
    the common members of something. : What will the rank and file think of the proposal?
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

rank and file

Followers, the general membership, as in This new senator really appeals to the rank and file in the labor unions. This expression comes from the military, where a rank denotes soldiers standing side by side in a row, and file refers to soldiers standing behind one another. The first recorded figurative use of this term was in 1860.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
The rank and file will be allowed all their clothing, but no other property.
But as his and the party's ratings kept sinking, the rank and file became
  restless.
Only fear prevents the rank and file from laying down their guns.
The ragged rank and file have replaced the previous state-security apparatus.
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