Definition of break rank (or ranks) in English:

break rank (or ranks)


  • 1(of soldiers or police officers) fail to remain in line.

    • ‘The colonel told the soldiers to break ranks and gather around him.’
    • ‘Suddenly, without hesitation, they broke ranks, with a large group heading southeast in a V-shaped formation.’
    • ‘When the first egg was discovered, we broke ranks to inspect it; it was slightly elongated, golf-ball-size, and camouflaged with dark green mottling on a light green field.’
    • ‘The squad breaks ranks and enters the barracks.’
    • ‘All of us stamp our right foot and salute, before breaking ranks to go to our squadrons.’
    • ‘However, they were slowly overwhelmed, and left with no other choice, the soldiers broke ranks and retreated.’
    • ‘The soldiers would then break ranks and charge, raising their shields like the petals of a blooming flower.’
    • ‘Rather, they scattered, breaking rank, and fled towards the burning barracks.’
    • ‘They charged the enemy then retreated, hoping the enemy would break ranks and pursue them into a well-coordinated trap.’
    • ‘The entire squadron broke ranks, laughing, clapping and cheering.’
    1. 1.1 Fail to maintain solidarity.
      ‘the government is prepared to break ranks with the Allied states’
      • ‘Some Republicans break ranks with the White House.’
      • ‘There are times when even partisans have to break ranks if they want to maintain credibility, and this is one of them.’
      • ‘Some fiscal conservatives within the Republican Party broke ranks to protest the pet projects that are earmarked for lawmakers' home districts.’
      • ‘Then again, Malcolm, you probably wouldn't want to break ranks with your Fairfax colleagues.’
      • ‘Nineteen senators broke ranks with the administration.’
      • ‘And many have refused to break ranks with tradition.’
      • ‘The insider claims that a senior civil servant in the Home Office broke ranks and told his bosses that he could not go along with the official line.’
      • ‘Over the years though, ski resort operators noticed that they started losing money by turning snowboarders away, and when a few resorts broke ranks and began raking in the cash, eventually most resorts complied.’
      • ‘A Yorkshire teacher will today call on his union to break ranks with the rest of the profession and back city academies.’
      • ‘This silence, I think, derives from a historical tradition emphasizing solidarity, a reluctance to break ranks.’