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

  • n. The enlisted troops, excluding noncommissioned officers, in an army.
  • n. The people who form the major portion of a group, organization, or society, excluding the leaders and officers.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Common soldiers, as would be arrayed in a grid pattern with ranks and files.
  • n. Those lacking any particular title or status; those having no station.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Those who constitute the bulk or working members of a party, society, etc., in distinction from the leaders.
  • n. See under 1st File.

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

  • n. people who constitute the main body of any group
  • n. the ordinary members of an organization (such as the enlisted soldiers of an army)


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • As I said, these people have the new-old power of mental healing, They blunder along with it blindly, absurdly, sometimes with tragic consequences; but meantime the rank and file of the pill-doctors know nothing about this power, and regard it with contempt mingled with fear; so of course the hosts of sufferers whom the pill-doctors cannot help flock to the healers of the "Church of Christ, Scientist".

    The Profits of Religion: An Essay in Economic Interpretation

  • “What the rank and file seemed to forget was that it was their way that had landed the JU in the cart in the first place,” Andy said.

    Conferences are Murder

  • Their consensus: UAES still biding its time, the Teamster rank and file on fire to whomp some ass, the only new wrinkle a suspicious-looking van parked on Gower, a man with a movie camera in the back.

    The Big Nowhere

  • She has the supreme advantage that the rank and file of her mighty host really believe what she teaches; they do not have to listen to table-rappings and flounder through swamps of automatic writings in order to bolster their hope of the survival of personality after death!

    The Profits of Religion: An Essay in Economic Interpretation

  • As a rank and file collegian myself, and well remembering the Jew and Samaritan state that prevailed between oppidans and collegers, I remember with pride that Patteson did so much to level the distinctions that worked so mischievously to the school.

    Life of John Coleridge Patteson

  • As we understood it at the time, the money or what remained of it, was to be used to encourage the defection of the rank and file supporters of Noun Paet, the Khmer Rouge officer, who we all believe is chiefly responsible for this tragedy.

    Cambodia: Wilson Case: Allegations by Sam Rainsy

  • But Philotas made a grave mistake when he responded to the charges in proper Greek rather than the Macedonian dialect of the rank and file soldiers.

    Alexander the Great

  • His interaction with the rank and file was mostly limited to the weekly one-hour Monday meetings, and at those he had an irritating and morale-eroding habit of publicly rebuking us when we failed to win battles on shuttle issues at the various NASA review panels.

    Riding Rockets

  • The trouble is, Lindsay, this union isnae for the rank and file any more.

    Conferences are Murder

  • Those guys are the rank and file of the local Jeune Patriots, who you rightly labeled dangerous criminals.

    A Billion Lives


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