1 [rangk]
a number of persons forming a separate class in a social hierarchy or in any graded body.
a social or official position or standing, as in the armed forces: the rank of captain.
high position or station in the social or some similar scale: a woman of rank.
a class in any scale of comparison.
relative position or standing: a writer of the first rank.
a row, line, or series of things or persons: orchestra players arranged in ranks.
the members of an armed service apart from its officers; enlisted personnel.
military enlisted personnel as a group.
Usually, ranks. the general body of any party, society, or organization apart from the officers or leaders.
orderly arrangement; array.
a line of persons, especially soldiers, standing abreast in close-order formation (distinguished from file ).
British. a place or station occupied by vehicles available for hire; stand: a taxi rank.
Chess. one of the horizontal lines of squares on a chessboard.
a set of organ pipes of the same kind and tonal color.
Also called determinant rank. Mathematics. the order of the nonzero determinant of greatest order that can be selected from a given matrix by the elimination of rows and columns.
Mining. the classification of coal according to hardness, from lignite to anthracite.
verb (used with object)
to arrange in ranks or in regular formation: The men were ranked according to height. He ranked the chess pieces on the board.
to assign to a particular position, station, class, etc.: She was ranked among the most admired citizens.
to outrank: The colonel ranks all other officers in the squadron.
Slang. to insult; criticize.
verb (used without object)
to form a rank or ranks.
to take up or occupy a place in a particular rank, class, etc.: to rank well ahead of the other students.
to have rank or standing.
to be the senior in rank: The colonel ranks at this camp.
Slang. to complain.
break ranks,
to leave an assigned position in a military formation.
to disagree with, defect from, or refuse to support one's colleagues, party, or the like.
pull rank (on), to make use of one's superior rank to gain an advantage over (someone). Also, pull one's rank (on)

1560–70; < French ranc (noun, obsolete), Old French renc, ranc, rang row, line < Germanic, akin to ring1

rankless, adjective
unranked, adjective

3. distinction, eminence, dignity. 6. range, tier. 9. alignment. 16. align, range, array.
Dictionary.com Unabridged


2 [rangk]
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.

before 1000; Middle English; Old English ranc bold, proud; cognate with Old Norse rakkr straight, bold

rankish, adjective
rankly, adverb
rankness, noun

1. abundant, exuberant. 5. complete, sheer, entire. 6. repulsive, repellent. See flagrant. 7. foul.


Otto [awt-oh] , 1884–1939, Austrian psychoanalyst.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
rank1 (ræŋk)
1.  a position, esp an official one, within a social organization, esp the armed forces: the rank of captain
2.  high social or other standing; status
3.  a line or row of people or things
4.  the position of an item in any ordering or sequence
5.  (Brit) a place where taxis wait to be hired
6.  Compare file a line of soldiers drawn up abreast of each other
7.  any of the eight horizontal rows of squares on a chessboard
8.  (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
9.  music a set of organ pipes controlled by the same stop
10.  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
11.  military break ranks to fall out of line, esp when under attack
12.  close ranks to maintain discipline or solidarity, esp in anticipation of attack
13.  pull rank to get one's own way by virtue of one's superior position or rank
14.  (tr) to arrange (people or things) in rows or lines; range
15.  to accord or be accorded a specific position in an organization, society, or group
16.  (tr) 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
17.  (intr) to be important; rate: money ranks low in her order of priorities
18.  chiefly (US) to take precedence or surpass in rank: the colonel ranks at this camp
[C16: from Old French ranc row, rank, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German hring circle]

rank2 (ræŋk)
1.  showing vigorous and profuse growth: rank weeds
2.  highly offensive or disagreeable, esp in smell or taste
3.  (prenominal) complete or absolute; utter: a rank outsider
4.  coarse or vulgar; gross: his language was rank
[Old English ranc straight, noble; related to Old Norse rakkr upright, Dutch, Swedish rank tall and thin, weak]

1.  J(oseph) Arthur, 1st Baron. 1888--1972, British industrialist and film executive, whose companies dominated the British film industry in the 1940s and 1950s
2.  Otto (ˈɔto). 1884--1939, Austrian psychoanalyst, noted for his theory that the trauma of birth may be reflected in certain forms of mental illness

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

early 14c., from O.Fr. ranc, from Frankish *hring (cf. O.H.G. hring "circle, ring"), from P.Gmc. *khrengaz "circle, ring" (see ring). Meaning "social position" is from c.1430; the verb sense of "put in order, classify" is from 1592. Rank and file is 1598, in reference to soldiers
marching in formation, generalized to "common soldiers" (1796) and "common people" (1860). The verb meaning "to arrange things in order" is from 1590.

O.E. ranc "proud, overbearing, showy," from P.Gmc. *rankaz (cf. Dan. rank "right, upright," Ger. rank "slender," O.N. rakkr "straight, erect"), perhaps from PIE *reg- "to stretch, straighten" (see right). In ref. to plant growth, "vigorous, luxuriant," it is recorded from
mid-13c. Sense evolved in M.E. to "large and coarse" (c.1300), then, via notion of "excessive and unpleasant," to "having a strong bad smell" (1520s). 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.)).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with rank, also see break ranks; close ranks; pull rank; rise through the ranks.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences for rank
This is not a genuine rank, but an appointment of divisional general.
Starting hands with three or four cards of one rank are very bad.
Seals with such a design are thought to be a mark of high social rank.
Rank rich family friend, who is secretly in love with nora.
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