Definition of break rank (or ranks) in US English:

break rank (or ranks)


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

    • ‘Rather, they scattered, breaking rank, and fled towards the burning barracks.’
    • ‘The squad breaks ranks and enters the barracks.’
    • ‘The colonel told the soldiers to break ranks and gather around him.’
    • ‘The entire squadron broke ranks, laughing, clapping and cheering.’
    • ‘Suddenly, without hesitation, they broke ranks, with a large group heading southeast in a V-shaped formation.’
    • ‘The soldiers would then break ranks and charge, raising their shields like the petals of a blooming flower.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘However, they were slowly overwhelmed, and left with no other choice, the soldiers broke ranks and retreated.’
    • ‘They charged the enemy then retreated, hoping the enemy would break ranks and pursue them into a well-coordinated trap.’
    • ‘All of us stamp our right foot and salute, before breaking ranks to go to our squadrons.’
    1. 1.1 Fail to maintain solidarity.
      ‘the government is prepared to break ranks with the Allied states’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This silence, I think, derives from a historical tradition emphasizing solidarity, a reluctance to break ranks.’
      • ‘Nineteen senators broke ranks with the administration.’
      • ‘And many have refused to break ranks with tradition.’
      • ‘Then again, Malcolm, you probably wouldn't want to break ranks with your Fairfax colleagues.’
      • ‘There are times when even partisans have to break ranks if they want to maintain credibility, and this is one of them.’
      • ‘Some Republicans break ranks with the White House.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A Yorkshire teacher will today call on his union to break ranks with the rest of the profession and back city academies.’
      • ‘Some fiscal conservatives within the Republican Party broke ranks to protest the pet projects that are earmarked for lawmakers' home districts.’