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[rangk] /ræŋk/

adjective, ranker, rankest.
growing with excessive luxuriance; vigorous and tall of growth:
tall rank weeds.
producing an excessive and coarse growth, as land.
having an offensively strong smell or taste:
a rank cigar.
offensively strong, as a smell or taste.
utter; absolute:
a rank amateur; rank treachery.
highly offensive; disgusting:
a rank sight of carnage.
grossly coarse, vulgar, or indecent:
rank language.
Slang. inferior; contemptible.
a position, esp an official one, within a social organization, esp the armed forces: the rank of captain
high social or other standing; status
a line or row of people or things
the position of an item in any ordering or sequence
(Brit) a place where taxis wait to be hired
a line of soldiers drawn up abreast of each other Compare file1 (sense 5)
any of the eight horizontal rows of squares on a chessboard
(in systemic grammar) one of the units of description of which a grammar is composed. Ranks of English grammar are sentence, clause, group, word, and morpheme
(music) a set of organ pipes controlled by the same stop
(maths) (of a matrix) the largest number of linearly independent rows or columns; the number of rows (or columns) of the nonzero determinant of greatest order that can be extracted from the matrix
(military) break ranks, to fall out of line, esp when under attack
close ranks, to maintain discipline or solidarity, esp in anticipation of attack
pull rank, to get one’s own way by virtue of one’s superior position or rank
(transitive) to arrange (people or things) in rows or lines; range
to accord or be accorded a specific position in an organization, society, or group
(transitive) to array (a set of objects) as a sequence, esp in terms of the natural arithmetic ordering of some measure of the elements: to rank students by their test scores
(intransitive) to be important; rate: money ranks low in her order of priorities
(mainly US) to take precedence or surpass in rank: the colonel ranks at this camp
showing vigorous and profuse growth: rank weeds
highly offensive or disagreeable, esp in smell or taste
(prenominal) complete or absolute; utter: a rank outsider
coarse or vulgar; gross: his language was rank
(ræŋk). J(oseph) Arthur, 1st Baron. 1888–1972, British industrialist and film executive, whose companies dominated the British film industry in the 1940s and 1950s
(German) (raŋk). Otto (ˈɔto). 1884–1939, Austrian psychoanalyst, noted for his theory that the trauma of birth may be reflected in certain forms of mental illness

early 14c., “row, line series;” c.1400, a row of an army, from Old French renc, ranc “row, line” (Modern French rang), from Frankish *hring or some other Germanic source (cf. Old High German hring “circle, ring”), from Proto-Germanic *khrengaz “circle, ring” (see ring (n.1)).

Meaning “a social division, class of persons” is from early 15c. Meaning “high station in society” is from early 15c. Meaning “a relative position” is from c.1600.

Old English ranc “proud, overbearing, showy,” from Proto-Germanic *rankaz (cf. Danish rank “right, upright,” German rank “slender,” Old Norse rakkr “straight, erect”), perhaps from PIE *reg- “to stretch, straighten” (see right (adj.)). In reference to plant growth, “vigorous, luxuriant, abundant, copious” it is recorded from c.1300. Related: Rankly; rankness.

Sense evolved in Middle English to “large and coarse” (c.1300), then, via notion of “excessive and unpleasant,” to “corrupt, loathsome, foul” (mid-14c.), perhaps from influence of Middle French rance “rancid.” In 17c. also “lewd, lustful.”

Much used 16c. as a pejorative intensive (cf. rank folly). This is possibly the source of the verb meaning “to reveal another’s guilt” (1929, underworld slang), and that of “to harass, abuse,” 1934, U.S. black dialect, though this also may be from the role of the activity in establishing social hierarchy (from rank (n.)).

1570s, “arrange in lines;” 1590s, “put in order, classify; assign a rank to,” from rank (n.). Related: Ranked; ranking.


Inferior; contemptible


Related Terms

pull rank

[second sense used by 1960s teenagers in the preferred variant rank out, both as a verb phrase and a noun phrase]
In addition to the idiom beginning with


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