Rank and file

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Rank and file describes the ordinary people in an organization as opposed to the leaders. Originally, rank and file was a military term that referred to the common soldiers as opposed to the officers. Rank and file described the vertical and horizontal lines of soldiers in formation. In the nineteenth century, the term was used to describe ordinary members of trade unions. Today, rank and file may be used to describe the ordinary people in any organization who are not leaders or officers. Additionally, rank and file may refer to the columns and rows on a chess board. Rank and file is sometimes rendered hyphenated, as in rank-and-file, when used as an adjective preceding a noun about half the time.


State Rep. Norine Hammond, R-Macomb, believes rank and file members of the General Assembly could reach a resolution faster than the legislative leaders and the governor at this point. (The Register-Mail)

Dinesh Mani’s Candidacy Irks Rank and File (The New Indian Express)

Gove and Mayor of London Boris Johnson have the support of many rank and file lawmakers and party activists for their campaign for a so-called Brexit, while Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne are leading the attempt to keep Britain in the bloc. (The Chicago Tribune)

“The people who are rank-and-file party members or members of the public are not subject to the rules. I expect them being wooed right now.” (The Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Clinton is feverishly trying to elicit passion from the Democratic rank-and-file, while Trump is trying to tamp down the negative passion of his party’s establishment, which worries that the bombastic real estate magnate will be a weak contender in the fall and cause collateral damage in down-ticket races. (U.S. News & World Report)