rank and file


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Financial, Wikipedia.

rank and file

 
1. Lit. regular soldiers, not the officers. I think there is low morale among the rank and file, sir. The rank and file usually do exactly as they are told.
2. Fig. the ordinary members of a group, not the leaders. The rank and file will vote on the proposed contract tomorrow. The last contract was turned down by the rank and file last year.
See also: and, file, rank

rank and file

Followers, the general membership, as in This new senator really appeals to the rank and file in the labor unions. This expression comes from the military, where a rank denotes soldiers standing side by side in a row, and file refers to soldiers standing behind one another. The first recorded figurative use of this term was in 1860.
See also: and, file, rank

rank and file

n. the common members of something. What will the rank and file think of the proposal?
See also: and, file, rank
References in classic literature ?
A number of the labor leaders had been executed; many others had been sentenced to prison, while thousands of the rank and file of the strikers had been herded into bull-pens** and abominably treated by the soldiers.
No remonstrances shook the iron resolution of the man who had hewed his way through the rank and file of political humanity to his own high place apart from the rest.
A far more, correct imagination than that of the pseudo-Herschel* had created them; and if they had been placed in rank and file, and copied by some skilful painter's hand, one would, without doubt, have exclaimed involuntarily, "What a beautiful arabesque
The rest, like the rank and file before an engagement, though they were getting ready for the fight, sought for other distractions in the interval.
Remarkable anywhere, by his personal appearance, he was still further distinguished among the rank and file of mankind by the harmless eccentricity of his character.
How now, old trapper, you have been one of your training, platoon, rank and file soldiers in your day, and have seen forts taken and batteries stormed before this--am I right?