Close ranks

Close ranks is an idiom that has been in use since the mid-1600s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as beating around the bush, ballpark figure, let the cat out of the bag, hit the sack, Achilles heel, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, a dime a dozen, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the expression close ranks, where it came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

To close ranks means to come together as a group in a supportive manner, to present a united front, to band together to support each other in the face of criticism or crisis. The idiom to close ranks comes from a military tactic, in which soldiers who are arranged in rows on a battlefield are told to move closer together to become more difficult to breach. The phrase close ranks was first used as an idiom to mean to band together sometime in the mid- to late 1600s. Related phrases are closes ranks, closed, ranks, closing ranks.


Hogan, who is being courted by Republican dissidents seeking an alternative to Trump, told Politico in an interview that he was disgusted by RNC efforts to close ranks around Trump and troubled by reports that Republicans in South Carolina were considering scrapping their primary altogether. (The Inquirer)

The extraordinary move is perceived as part of Jordan’s efforts to close ranks in order to combat any change in the religious and political status of the Temple Mount – which is holy to both Muslims and Jews – especially with respect to allowing the latter to pray there. (Haaretz)

The biggest takeaway of the day was Mamata Banerjee announcing that she would close ranks with her bitter political rivals — the Congress and the Left — to take on the BJP in the general elections. (The Free Press Journal)

The Keeping Up With The Kardashians stars have closed ranks since it emerged that basketball pro Tristan had cheated on Khloe with Jordyn Woods. (The Mirror)

African governments closed ranks over the disputed presidential contest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, declining to criticise the election process and backing away from calls for a recount despite evidence of a massive electoral fraud. (The Financial Times)

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