break ranks(redirected from broken ranks)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia.
1. Literally, to step out of a military formation. Don't break ranks, or the drill sergeant will lose it.
2. By extension, to behave in a way that is different from or opposes the other members of a group that one is a part of. You're a part of management now—if you disagree with their initiatives, then you need to break ranks.
to do or say something different from what a group you belong to does or says Two owners broke ranks and said they were against locking out the players.
Usage notes: often followed by with: They decided to break ranks with the alliance and work independently for a solution.
Etymology: based on the military meaning of break ranks (to walk away from a straight row in which you and other soldiers have been standing)
to publicly show that you disagree with a group of which you are a member (often + with ) Junior officers were said to be prepared to break ranks with the leadership.
Fall out of line or into disorder; also, fail to conform, deviate. For example, The recruits were warned that they must not break ranks, or Harry was told to adhere to the party platform and not break ranks. This idiom uses rank in the sense of "soldiers drawn up in line," and the term originally referred to their falling into disarray. The figurative usage dates from the mid-1800s.