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Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for July 30, 2019 is:

phalanx • FAY-lanks  • noun

1 : a body of heavily armed infantry in ancient Greece formed in close deep ranks and files; broadly : a body of troops in close array

2 : one of the digital bones of the hand or foot of a vertebrate

3 a : a massed arrangement of persons, animals, or things

b : an organized body of persons


“Despite Beyoncé missing in action, Skylar Grey filled her shoes admirably, as she sang the hook and played the piano. In addition to Grey, a phalanx of violinists helped anchor the heartfelt performance.” — Carl Lamarre,, 12 Nov. 2017

“This specimen … is the middle phalanx of a human middle finger. It was collected from the Nefud desert of Saudi Arabia by Huw Groucutt of Oxford University and his colleagues. In a paper just published in Nature Ecology & Evolution they report that uranium-thorium isotopic dating suggests it is 88,000 years old….” — The Economist, 14 Apr. 2018

Did you know?

The original sense of phalanx refers to a military formation that was used in ancient warfare and consisted of a tight block of soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder, several rows deep, often with shields joined. The word phalanx comes from the Greeks, though they were not the only ones who used this formation. The Greek term literally means “log” and was used for both this line of battle and for a bone in a finger or toe. The word and its senses passed into Latin and then were adopted into English in the 16th century. These days, a phalanx can be any arranged mass, whether of persons, animals, or things, or a body of people organized in a particular effort.

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