from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Biology A primary division of a kingdom, as of the animal kingdom, ranking next above a class in size. See Table at taxonomy.
  • n. Linguistics A large division of possibly genetically related families of languages or linguistic stocks.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A rank in the classification of organisms, below kingdom and above class; also called a division, especially in describing plants; a taxon at that rank
  • n. A large division of possibly related languages, or a major language family which is not subordinate to another.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of the larger divisions of the animal kingdom; a branch; a grand division.
  • n. A series of animals or plants genetically connected.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Any primary division or subkingdom of the animal or vegetable kingdom. , , , , ,
  • n. The graphic representation of the evolution of one or several forms of animal life by descent with modification from preexisting ancestors, on the principle of the construction of a genealogical table or “family tree.”
  • n. In botany, a great group or sub-kingdom of the vegetable kingdom, next above a class.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (biology) the major taxonomic group of animals and plants; contains classes
  • n. (linguistics) a large group of languages that are historically related


New Latin phȳlum, from Greek phūlon, class; see bheuə- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin phylum, from Ancient Greek φῦλον (phulon, "tribe, race"). (Wiktionary)


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