One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Chiefly Ancient Greek History. In ancient Greece: the ruler or leader of a phyle. Also more generally: a tribal or clan chief.
2Ancient Greek History. In Attica: an officer elected to command the cavalry of each of the ten phylai.
Mid 16th century (in an earlier sense). From classical Latin phȳlarchus leader or chief of a tribe, chief official of a Greek phyle from ancient Greek ϕύλαρχος chief official of a phyle, (in Attica) commander of the cavalry of a phyle from ϕυλή tribe + -αρχος.
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