Definition of rank and file in English:

rank and file


the rank and file
  • treated as plural The ordinary members of an organization as opposed to its leaders.

    ‘the rank and file of the Labour Party’
    as modifier ‘rank-and-file members’
    • ‘There is no burning desire by the rank and file members of a party to take part in the selection processes.’
    • ‘The pressure not to have a ballot came from the rank and file, not Scargill and the NUM union leadership.’
    • ‘The late and great John Smith and Donald Dewar were both in the rank and file.’
    • ‘All of that has created a huge vacuum between them and the rank-and-file members.’
    • ‘And he's now basically a rank-and-file member who has a lot of friends and will still have influence.’
    • ‘Most people in the church are rank-and-file members who do little more than attend worship services.’
    • ‘Until now I have discussed evangelical leaders rather than rank-and-file members.’
    • ‘We have to maximise the turnout of ordinary rank and file members on the 19 June protest.’
    • ‘He was widely loathed by rank-and-file members of the fire department.’
    • ‘Clearly energy must be put into renewing and broadening connections between rank-and-file members.’
    • ‘Panday has himself stated that this is a matter for the rank and file to decide.’
    • ‘It remains to be seen whether the Institute's rank-and-file members support the policy.’
    • ‘Both have advisory boards, individual donors and websites, but no rank-and-file members.’
    • ‘Since then, Johnston has been a rank-and-file member and is still active in the union as a shop steward.’
    • ‘At ministerial level, it usually does, but among the rank and file, it often does not.’
    • ‘The rank-and-file member who's not inside the leadership is dependent on those leaders to lead.’
    • ‘It cannot be said with certainty that such political moves benefited the rank and file.’
    • ‘As a result, those who occupy these roles may garner more support than rank-and-file church members.’
    • ‘It is now essential to organise democratic debate among the rank and file to define our demands and our strategy.’
    • ‘They have a different social position to ordinary rank and file union members.’
    other ranks, soldiers and ncos, lower ranks
    ordinary members
    View synonyms


Referring to the ‘ranks’ and ‘files’ into which privates and non-commissioned officers form on parade.


rank and file