Definition of phalanx in US English:



  • 1A body of troops or police officers standing or moving in close formation.

    ‘six hundred marchers set off, led by a phalanx of police’
    • ‘Dozens of pro- and anti-Estrada protesters had to be held back from near the main entrance of the court, where a phalanx of policemen were on guard and steel barricades had been erected.’
    • ‘We were two blocks from the police phalanx moving up the street toward us and pushing the Free Carnival Area of the Americas ahead of them.’
    • ‘An hour earlier, phalanxes of police officers had closed in on peaceful sidewalk protestors, forcing them into the street and herding them helplessly away.’
    • ‘He was moved through the media scrum surrounded by a phalanx of Dallas police officers.’
    • ‘We make our way slowly out of the field and along the side of a small country road, passing a phalanx of police officers dressed in riot gear.’
    1. 1.1 A group of people or things of a similar type forming a compact body.
      ‘he headed past the phalanx of waiting reporters to the line of limos’
      • ‘Labour's manifesto was launched not by the Prime Minister alone but by a carefully choreographed phalanx of six ministers, with the remainder of the Cabinet arrayed behind them as a silent chorus.’
      • ‘Here, librarians wander as wireless information warriors amid users at phalanxes of black computers.’
      • ‘It was by no means paranoid to imagine the loss of two or three of the Ulster Unionist Party's regular phalanx of 15 or so MPs from the inner counties.’
      • ‘This massed phalanx of critical women, their views reinforced by their happy agreement with each other, would plainly make any intimate compromise or concession on the part of the injured wife far harder to achieve.’
      • ‘Of the strong modern phalanx of British composers, Judith Weir has long been a leader.’
      • ‘This is the place where I take up arms on behalf of the common man - or at least the common motorist - against the grim phalanx of officialdom which seeks to strangle our freedoms.’
      • ‘With the help of the late Pim Fortuyn's phalanx of oddball MPs, he is putting together the most right-wing government seen in Holland since the war.’
      • ‘So you were at home, there's a knock at the door, you opened the door and there's a sort of phalanx of legal people and their associates there and they demand immediate access to your computer?’
      • ‘It seems pointless to lump these three very different authors together, particularly when they are juxtaposed against a phalanx of the great and the good of mainly ascendancy writing.’
      • ‘With Spain's phalanx of minimalist technicians happy to pass the ball among themselves early on, the first half-hour passed off almost entirely without incident.’
      • ‘How far did Handel's music exert a stranglehold, and was it ever seen as supporting the conservative Ancient Music phalanx, which was uniquely strong in Britain?’
      • ‘The first feature to catch the eye is a giant nine-meter dish surrounded by phalanx of smaller satellite dishes for transmitting and receiving signals.’
      • ‘Most intriguing, though, is that phalanx of stolid men in colourless suits forever behind and beside Bush.’
      • ‘The most recent addition to the West End of Glasgow's phalanx of themed restaurants, Arisaig, occupies the site of the former Living Room pub at the bottom of Byres Road.’
    2. 1.2 (in ancient Greece) a body of Macedonian infantry with long spears, drawn up in close order with shields overlapping.
      • ‘And there was little beauty, if some nobility, in the famously effective Greek phalanx.’
      • ‘The Romans entered Macedonia, and the Macedonian phalanx fought its last battle on unfavourable ground at Pydna, on the morrow of the lunar eclipse in June 168.’
      • ‘It demonstrated the superiority of the more flexible Roman legion over the Hellenistic pike phalanx.’
      • ‘The Macedonian phalanx was Philip's creation, extended by Alexander.’
      • ‘Sixteen thousand of them he organized into a massive phalanx, even dressing them in Macedonian style.’
  • 2Anatomy
    A bone of the finger or toe.

    • ‘A calcined distal first phalanx was recovered from Unit B, Level 2, while Unit E, Level 4 contained a calcined distal third phalanx.’
    • ‘Occasionally the fifth digit has only one crease because of a small middle phalanx.’
    • ‘Extensor pollicis brevis arises from the radius distal to abductor pollicis longus and inserts onto the base of the proximal phalanx of the thumb.’
    • ‘Two specimens, a distal two-thirds of a central metapodial and a complete proximal phalanx, are those of a large felid.’
    • ‘A single manual phalanx is shown on the first digit of the fore foot, although it is possible, or even likely that none of the manual phalanges were ossified.’


Mid 16th century (denoting a body of Macedonian infantry): via Latin from Greek.