rank and file, the

rank and file

1. noun Ordinary members who are not in a position of leadership, authority, or power. The deal was rejected by a large majority of the rank and file within the union.
2. adjective Everyday; ordinary; not in a position of authority or power. Often hyphenated. The scandal appears to go beyond rank-and-file officers all the way to the heads of the police force. Everyone assumes I make a lot of money because I work in the film industry, but the pay for a rank-and-file crew member is actually pretty low.
See also: and, file, rank
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

rank and file

The rank and file of an organization are its ordinary members rather than its leaders. He gave the sort of speeches the rank and file wanted to hear. Note: Rank-and-file is often used before nouns. The take-home pay of a rank-and-file orchestra member at the time was only 2.7 million lire per month.
See also: and, file, rank
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

rank and file

the ordinary members of an organization as opposed to its leaders.
The notion behind the expression is of the ‘ranks’ and ‘files’ into which privates and non-commissioned officers form on parade.
See also: and, file, rank
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

(the) ˌrank and ˈfile

(the) ordinary members of a group or an organization: I can see that you are happy with the plan but what will the rank and file think?The rank-and-file members don’t elect the leader. OPPOSITE: (the) top brass
In the military, the rank and file are ordinary soldiers who are not officers.
See also: and, file, rank
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

rank and file

n. the common members of something. What will the rank and file think of the proposal?
See also: and, file, rank
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

rank and file, the

The general population; followers rather than leaders. This term comes from the military, where it means soldiers and noncommissioned officers as opposed to officers. Both words actually refer to specific lineups, a rank meaning men aligned side by side and a file men standing behind one another. It is the soldiers and noncommissioned who line up in this way, with the officers standing in front or to the side. The military expression dates from the sixteenth century. In the late eighteenth century it began to be applied figuratively to the general membership of a large group or the individuals in a series. Robert Burns did so in First Epistle to Davie (1784): “The words come skelpan, rank and file.”
See also: and, rank
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
With Rank and File and The New Rank and File, the Lynds reminds us that we owe a debt to both to the past, and to the people in the trenches today.