from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A relative position in a society.
  • noun An official position or grade.
  • noun A relative position or degree of value in a graded group.
  • noun High or eminent station or position.
  • noun A row, line, series, or range.
  • noun A line of soldiers, vehicles, or equipment standing side by side in close order.
  • noun The armed forces.
  • noun Personnel, especially enlisted military personnel.
  • noun A body of people classed together; numbers.
  • noun Games Any of the rows of squares running crosswise to the files on a playing board in chess or checkers.
  • intransitive verb To place in a row or rows.
  • intransitive verb To give a particular order or position to; classify.
  • intransitive verb To outrank or take precedence over.
  • intransitive verb To hold a particular rank.
  • intransitive verb To form or stand in a row or rows.
  • intransitive verb To complain.
  • intransitive verb To engage in carping criticism. Often used with on:
  • idiom (pull rank) To use one's superior rank to gain an advantage.
  • adjective Growing profusely or with excessive vigor.
  • adjective Yielding a profuse, often excessive crop; highly fertile.
  • adjective Strong and offensive in odor or flavor.
  • adjective Absolute; complete: synonym: flagrant.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Rankly; strongly; furiously.
  • To become rank.
  • Strong; powerful; capable of acting or of being used with great effect; energetic; vigorous; headstrong.
  • Strong of its kind or in character; unmitigated; virulent; thorough; utter: as, rank poison; rank treason; rank nonsense.
  • Strong in growth; growing with vigor or rapidity; hence, coarse or gross: said of plants.
  • Suffering from overgrowth or hypertrophy, plethoric.
  • Causing strong growth; producing luxuriantly; rich and fertile.
  • Strong to the senses; offensive; noisome; rancid: as, a rank taste or odor.
  • Hence Coarse or gross morally; offensive to the mind; obscene; indecent; foul.
  • Ruttish; in heat.
  • In law, excessive; exceeding the actual value: as, a rank modus.
  • In mech., cutting strongly or deeply, as the iron of a plane set so as to project more than usual.
  • Eager; anxious; impatient: as, he was rank to do it.
  • Very angry; in a passion.
  • Unmanageable: said of a racehorse on the track.
  • noun Specifically, rank in the United States army according to date of last commission.
  • In logging, to haul and pile regularly: as, to rank bark or cord-wood.
  • noun A name proposed by Perry for the thermodynamic quantity, .
  • To arrange in a rank or ranks; place in a rank or line.
  • To assign to a particular class, order, or division; fix the rank of; class.
  • To take rank of or over; outrank; as, in the United States army, an officer commissioned simply as general ranks all other generals.
  • To dispose in suitable order; arrange; classify.
  • To fix as to state or estimation; settle; establish.
  • To range; give the range to, as a gun in firing.
  • To move in ranks or rows.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, line, row, from Old French ranc, renc, of Germanic origin; see sker- in Indo-European roots.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English ranc, from Old English, strong, overbearing; see reg- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English rank ("line, row"), from Old French reng, rang, ranc ("line, row, rank") (Modern French rang), from Frankish hring ("ring"), from Proto-Germanic *hringaz (“something bent or curved”), which is of uncertain origin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English rank ("strong, proud"), from Old English ranc ("proud, haughty, arrogant, insolent, forward, overbearing, showy, ostentatious, splendid, bold, valiant, noble, brave, strong, full-grown, mature"), from Proto-Germanic *rankaz (“straight”), from Proto-Indo-European *h₃reǵ- (“straight, direct”). Cognate with Dutch rank ("slender, slim"), Low German rank ("slender, projecting, lank"), Danish rank ("straight, erect, slender"), Swedish rank ("slender, shaky, wonky"), Icelandic rakkr ("straight, slender, bold, valiant").


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  • Lieut. Martin says that the bayonets and rifle-barrels of the front rank were sometimes struck and jammed _by bullets from the rear rank_.

    Afghanistan and the Anglo-Russian Dispute Theo. F. Rodenbough

  • I. iii.196 (33,7) How rank soever rounded in with danger] A _rank weed_ is a _high weed_.

    Notes to Shakespeare, Volume III: The Tragedies Samuel Johnson 1746

  • HasChildNodes) {CatalogTitle title = ParseSingleCatalogTitle (subNode); null) {title. rank = rank++; _titleList.

    The Code Project Latest Articles NetDave 2009

  • To connect my previous military service to today†™ s military service in connection to my rank is your mistake, not mine.

    Heroes or Villains? 2010

  • Next to the rank is the "V" that normally stands for valor.

    Ray Jennings 2010

  • His character is the sum total of all these blobs, textures, and tastes; the word rank, addressed to Gertude, actually makes my mouth go bitter.

    The Beautiful Miscellaneous Dominic Smith 2007

  • His character is the sum total of all these blobs, textures, and tastes; the word rank, addressed to Gertude, actually makes my mouth go bitter.

    The Beautiful Miscellaneous Dominic Smith 2007

  • Jim Glassman, you have said, and you have written that the opposition, the outcry was, the result of what you called rank racist nonsense, and it was foolish, and embarrassing.

    CNN Transcript Mar 3, 2006 2006

  • Now in a place so small as Jerusalem, what we call the rank and file really counts.

    The New Jerusalem 1905

  • TCO, it is rather obvious that a general classification like amateur has little predictive value of a poster’s knowledge and that is why I apply the term rank amateur to describe myself.

    Curry's Comments on Klotzbach « Climate Audit 2006


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  • Such an interesting word. It can mean fertile, offensive in odor, the relative status or position in a hierarchy, a row on a chess board, or a line of soldiers. My favorite use is as an intensifier for absolute as in the beautiful Appalachian ballad Rank Stranger:

    "Everybody I met, seemed to be a rank stranger.

    No Mother or Dad, not a friend could I see.

    They knew not my name, I knew not their faces.

    I found they were all rank strangers to me."

    November 12, 2007

  • For the record, the row on a chess board is named in direct analogy for the line of soldiers. I would imagine the hierarchy term comes from this as well.

    November 12, 2007

  • Whoa. Nomenclature for a war game taken from military terminology? Who would have guessed?

    Do you suppose "knight" comes from...nah, too obvious.


    November 12, 2007

  • from Persian rang meaning "color", as the Sassanid army was ranked and dressed by color

    August 31, 2009