Pronunciation key

( fī′ləm )


n. pl.

•la (-lə)

[<NL < Gk. phylon a race, tribe < phyein produce, ]

  1. Biology. Great division of life forms, i.e., plants, animals, et cetera which rank next, below the major kingdom and above a class of which the members are believed to have a common ancestor.
  2. Any of the broad, basic divisions of plant, animal, et cetera classifications.
  3. Any of the broad, basic divisions of the linguistic families.


  • Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language (College Edition) ©1955
  • Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary, Comprehensive International Edition, ©1976
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