Alex from Columbia, Missouri, wonders about rank and file, meaning “the members of the body of an organization as opposed to its leaders.” In 12th-century France, the words renc or ranc referred to a row of soldiers. The word file means a “line” or “thread” and is related to the English word filament. The term rank and file coexisted in both chess and the military for hundreds of years. We didn’t mention it on the show, but rank and file are also used for the columns and rows of sudoku puzzles.
This is part of a complete episode.