Main definitions of rank in English

: rank1rank2



  • 1A position in the hierarchy of the armed forces.

    ‘an army officer of high rank’
    ‘he was promoted to the rank of Captain’
    • ‘I can think of nothing finer to do for this general officer today than promote her to the rank of major general.’
    • ‘In addition to putting in order the system of assignment to positions, it is advisable to enhance the importance of every officer rank.’
    • ‘English is widely used within the government, the officer ranks of the military, and in many institutions of higher learning.’
    • ‘There are those who like him - largely in the officer or senior NCO ranks - and those who do not - normally private Soldiers.’
    • ‘Career opportunities are closely linked with the promotion to a higher rank which officers receive as a rule when appointed to higher job assignments.’
    • ‘There were 34 generals of different ranks from the Egyptian Armed Forces on board the plane.’
    • ‘The school system prepares an officer for success at the tactical and operational levels and to serve in positions of a strategic nature at the rank of lieutenant colonel and above.’
    • ‘The position for wearing the badges of warrant officer rank changed from the lower forearm to the mid-upper arm at the end of 1996.’
    • ‘Promoting all new Special Forces troops to Warrant Officer rank, special bonuses and other benefits are all under consideration.’
    • ‘These super Sailors were chosen from the ‘best of the best,’ and as such, were meritoriously promoted to the rank of chief petty officer.’
    • ‘Under our current model, we wait until an officer attains the rank of major before investing in the yearlong command and general staff officer course.’
    • ‘In this year he returned to America with the rank of lieutenant colonel to take up a staff position.’
    • ‘Over the last two decades, about ten percent of the enlisted Special Forces troops were promoted to Warrant Officer rank.’
    • ‘Romanian Americans were also represented in significant numbers during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and many were promoted to officer ranks.’
    • ‘A chaplain receives the same pay, benefits and allowances as any other officer of his rank, and is eligible for full retirement benefits if he serves twenty years.’
    • ‘These are ranks for technical officers who do not have to command troops.’
    • ‘He later became senior medical officer in Borneo with the rank of lieutenant colonel.’
    • ‘He also was a 29-year veteran of the military and held the rank of warrant officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.’
    • ‘To help alleviate a shortfall of 1,900 captains, the U.S. Army will promote officers earlier to the rank of captain beginning in October.’
    • ‘In May 2003, he was promoted to the highest rank of cadet officer.’
    1. 1.1 A position within the hierarchy of an organization or society.
      ‘only two cabinet members had held ministerial rank before’
      • ‘He was not within the leading ranks of borough society and performed his citizen's duty only through one stint as chamberlain.’
      • ‘Position and rank within an organization mean very little.’
      • ‘Social rank is also determined by one's region of origin, age, marital status, and gender.’
      • ‘Wilhemina is in her late 20s and overworking herself as she climbs the ranks in her surgical unit.’
      • ‘Access to literacy was always determined by social rank and by sex.’
      • ‘Expensive costumes were a vital part of the visual appeal of theatre, and characters of high social rank were represented by appropriately luxurious clothing.’
      • ‘Those classes may represent groups of individuals differing by their sex, age, stage, social rank, or geographical position.’
      • ‘They did not need churches or ministers for worship, they recognized no external authority, and they recognized no social rank.’
      • ‘Since then Anthony has risen within the company ranks to the position of directing animator, and now calls California home.’
      • ‘Other people are chosen based on their international rank within the sport.’
      • ‘Under this complex system everyone was assigned a rank within society.’
      • ‘We strive to make sure that ranks reflect the actual level of the students.’
      position, grade, level, echelon, gradation, point on the scale, rung on the ladder
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2mass noun High social position.
      ‘persons of rank and breeding’
      • ‘The first of these strategies addresses social rank; the second, economics.’
      • ‘The population was sharply stratified by occupation, income, and social rank.’
      • ‘We are hoping that she will marry well, to a man with security for her and with connections and family and status and even social rank.’
      • ‘Mona looked ruffled, which wasn't a really unusual expression for her to carry around, given her social rank.’
      • ‘Abraham had a penchant for being critical and had no hesitation in publicly chastising his colleagues, regardless of their rank or position.’
      • ‘Clothing was central to social definition, defining one's gender, social rank, occupation, age, marital status, or ethnic identity.’
      • ‘Even a complete dunce with absolutely no sense of social rank and cliques would know that a guy like Matt should never go to a party hosted by my sister.’
      • ‘Many of the most important rules of etiquette serve to mark differences in social rank.’
      • ‘The fact remains that many tend to marry people like themselves, especially when it comes to social rank.’
      • ‘Young and beautiful women like you should not be insulted no matter what your social rank may be.’
      • ‘In this context, jurists and scholars were accorded high social rank.’
      • ‘The rank and social standing of the subjects of portraiture are also expressed by conventions, which shift with time.’
      • ‘But ten years from now, no one is going to give a damn what social rank you held in high school.’
      • ‘Annapolis had a large number of bachelors among those of high social rank.’
      • ‘The length of the wake varies according to the social rank and social status of the dead.’
      • ‘Traditional values included an acceptance of behavior dependent on social rank.’
      • ‘He plays up his breeding and rank at every opportunity, and in doing so reveals himself to be an even grubbier character than we first imagined.’
      high standing, nobility, aristocracy, blue blood, high birth, eminence, distinction, prestige
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Statistics A number specifying position in a numerically ordered series.
      • ‘For the purpose of this study, a percentile rank of [is less than or equal to] 25 was considered below average for that group.’
      • ‘Based on results from the vocabulary and reading comprehension sections, participants were assigned a percentile rank.’
      • ‘The STAT scores available for each student range from 100 to 200 for each part and for the total, together with a percentile rank for each.’
      • ‘Higher percentile ranks indicated better relative performance.’
      • ‘Percentile ranks were used to compare performance among institutions.’
    4. 1.4 (in systemic grammar) the level of a linguistic unit or set of linguistic units in relation to other sets in the hierarchy.
  • 2A single line of soldiers or police officers drawn up abreast.

    ‘they were drawn up outside their barracks in long ranks’
    • ‘The clouds seemed to form ranks like soldiers, each line catching a thin strand of orange or pink light on its edge.’
    • ‘However, one development was the use of fewer ranks of soldiers making them less susceptible to artillery fire.’
    • ‘By doctrine, to be sure, military police stand in the front ranks of first responders when service support units become incapable of defending themselves.’
    • ‘The girls tossed flowers and blew kisses as the ranks of military personnel passed by, a supportive gesture tinged with romanticism.’
    • ‘In Andalucia, Spain, birch trees line up in ranks like silent soldiers on a tufted, dewy-green ground cover.’
    • ‘The procession passed ranks of red-clad guards, their gold badges shining brightly in the sunlight, and turned into the sanded courtyard outside the hall.’
    • ‘The young king looked out upon the thousands of soldiers lined in ranks, the curved edges of their swords flashing in the morning light.’
    row, line, file, column, series, succession, string, train, procession
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 A regular row or line of things or people.
      ‘conifer plantations growing in serried ranks’
      • ‘With its serried ranks of beach brollies and ribbons of restaurants and hotels lining the seafront, it hardly seems the most promising venue for a music festival.’
      • ‘Here vegetation tends towards dark and spiky lushness, though Darwin itself is trim, its greenery coiffed, its palm trees serried in wind-ruffled ranks around the shoreline.’
      • ‘As soon as motorists get used to counting two cameras before putting their foot down, it will be necessary to install three in a row, then four and so on until the whole county is covered by serried ranks of cameras.’
      • ‘Dawn sees a group of hollow-eyed divers gathered on the beach in a fine drizzle, staring slack-jawed at serried ranks of white horses charging towards us atop crackling green breakers.’
      • ‘But at the same time they dread it - because they dread the rest of society forming up in ranks and squeezing them out of the leadership position they think they deserve.’
      • ‘Can't quite face the serried ranks of lilac-tulle-clad duchesses and hordes of merchant bankers being corporately entertained?’
      • ‘One could perhaps disappear into the olive groves that grew in smoky ranks along the highway, or into the deserted farmsteads that lay in the shadow of the heights.’
      • ‘He turned back to the village and closely inspected its scattered ranks of gray houses; the windows were opaque and the doors sealed shut.’
      • ‘I went down by the Nieuwe Haven among old steamboats, and walked along ranks of tall houses built for wool merchants and wine shippers.’
      • ‘At the Tate launch, in front of the serried ranks of the world press, he's at it again.’
      • ‘The grey, flinty slopes covered in the serried ranks of vineyards, gave way to the high pastures, the Alpine meadows, which nourished the famed milch cattle of Switzerland.’
    2. 2.2Chess Each of the eight rows of eight squares running from side to side across a chessboard.
      Compare with file
      • ‘White cannot prevent the pawns from lining up on the sixth rank.’
      • ‘The first rank is always where White sets up his major pieces; the eighth rank is where Black sets up his major pieces.’
      • ‘White has his rook on the seventh rank and Black's queenside pawns are very weak.’
      • ‘The Knight can defend against a RP, even without it's own King, if it can stop the pawn at the sixth rank.’
      • ‘Meanwhile Black is pinned on the back rank and is thus playing without half his pieces, the black queen-Rook and black queen-Bishop.’
    3. 2.3British
      short for taxi rank
      • ‘He suggested that the Council consider providing one central taxi rank in the town rather than a series of smaller ranks.’
      • ‘They said regular day-time taxi users, who include elderly people and parents with young children, have said they are afraid to queue at the rank because of the situation.’
      • ‘He dismissed any suggestion that the central rank posed a danger to people crossing the road to get a taxi.’
  • 3the ranksThe people belonging to or constituting a group or class.

    ‘the ranks of Britain's unemployed’
    • ‘Governments rose and fell, new participants swelled the ranks of the political elite, and the middle class kept expanding.’
    • ‘But they are making strides on all fronts and their ranks are growing.’
    • ‘This semester, I am both humbled and proud to join the ranks of published columnists who choose to express their opinions for the consumption of the masses.’
    • ‘The enormous expansion of white collar work throughout the twentieth century meant pushing the vast majority down into the ranks of the working class.’
    • ‘Though not quite gifted enough to enter the ranks of the elite, he wasn't through with sports.’
    • ‘What does it say for any organization that allows this criminal element to exist within its ranks?’
    • ‘Though most remained members of the working class, large numbers moved into the ranks of the lower middle classes.’
    • ‘They would join the regular ranks of the public.’
    • ‘There are candidates qualified and experienced to hold the reins of this office, from within the ranks of the organisation.’
    • ‘It would be nice to find more redeeming features but what sort of media industry leader profits from free speech but then doesn't tolerate any criticism from within his own ranks.’
    • ‘But despite the escalating pressure, rebel leaders claim the strength of their ranks is growing rather than draining away.’
    • ‘With the influx of new blood every year, ready-made stars, they have a massive advantage over the ordinary club side, who must make up the numbers from within their own ranks.’
    • ‘Against a picturesque backdrop, our sailors charted the course to glory, confirming their position as the most successful team within the British ranks.’
    • ‘The bad news is that there will inevitably be job losses in the hundreds, if not thousands, among the ranks of common bank workers.’
    • ‘And this much we know already: unless we open up political debate within our own ranks, our politics will not be improved.’
    • ‘Over the past 10 years, 300,000 extra women have joined the ranks of those working outside the home.’
    • ‘Ever since, the boys in blue have largely come from the ranks of the working and lower middle classes.’
    • ‘Britain's growing ranks of pensioners, present and future, are facing a tough time unless action is taken to tackle a huge shortfall in the nation's pension pot.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, neither our media nor academic establishments allow much intellectual diversity in their ranks.’
    • ‘But this past summer, the movement faced even more formidable organizing challenges within its own ranks.’
    1. 3.1the ranks (in the armed forces) those who are not commissioned officers.
      ‘he was fined and reduced to the ranks’
      • ‘Dissent within the ranks was substantial, officers had lost control, desertion had increased, and soldiers wanted to go home regardless of orders.’
      • ‘Well, in other military news tonight, there's some grumbling in the ranks over a new combat award.’
      • ‘These were youths of noble birth and of doubtful education who would serve in the ranks and then receive commissions after two or more years' service.’
      • ‘For example, the army not only commissioned officers from the ranks, but in November 1942 eradicated all formal educational barriers for officer candidates.’
      • ‘In the 1970s he left the ranks to become a commissioned officer, serving in Germany and the Falkland Islands.’
      • ‘He had no compunction in reducing officers to the ranks or hitting men who failed the test in action.’
      • ‘He had the required service in the ranks but wondered whether as a former commissioned officer he was eligible for admission.’
      • ‘An easy-to-read guide is circulating within the ranks, via email, offering a tongue-in-cheek explanation to terminology used by the Ministry of Defence.’
      • ‘By May 1945 there were 8,300,000 soldiers in the Army's ranks.’
      • ‘There was great excitement in the ranks as scouts raced ahead.’
      • ‘A bare majority was from West Point; the rest had risen from the ranks or were National Guardsmen or Reservists.’
      • ‘Officers promoted from the ranks say they miss the easy friendliness and companionship of the mess deck but it is hard to see how.’
      • ‘In addition to this resistance within the ranks, military families have become public anti-war spokespeople and frontline activists.’
      • ‘There's a lot of work to be done within the ranks.’
      • ‘The Army has been drawing officer from the ranks of our soldiers for most of our history.’
      • ‘Like all the graduating cadets, he was assigned to a unit as a platoon lieutenant, commanding the ranks of the enlisted men.’
      • ‘He was sentenced to be reduced to the ranks and put under stoppages of pay until he had made good the sum of £1,200 compensation to his victim.’
      • ‘The ranks of the regular army were drawn overwhelmingly from the highly urbanized, heavily garrisoned northern and eastern frontier districts.’
      • ‘Traditionally the British army gives the post of regimental QM to an officer commissioned from the ranks.’
  • 4Mathematics
    The value or the order of the largest non-zero determinant of a given matrix.

    • ‘The correlation matrix values were obtained using the Spearman rank order correlation test.’
    • ‘We use a generalized inverse of V, however, in case it is not of full rank; if this occurs, the degrees of freedom are the rank of the matrix V.’
    • ‘The rank of this matrix is 1, so that the equation is identified.’
    • ‘This is the well-known criterion which says that a system of linear equations has a solution if and only if the rank of the matrix of the associated homogeneous system is equal to the rank of the augmented matrix of the system.’
    • ‘The rigidity of a matrix is the number of entries in a matrix which need to be changed in order to bring the rank of the matrix down to a certain value.’
    1. 4.1 An analogous quantity in other kinds of group.


  • 1with object and adverbial Give (someone or something) a rank or place within a grading system.

    ‘students ranked the samples in order of preference’
    with object and complement ‘she is ranked number four in the world’
    • ‘The country ranks 15th among the 40 most attractive countries to host company outsourcing.’
    • ‘At present education proceeds by ranking pupils and students according to their success in a very narrow range of abilities - mostly logical and mathematical ones.’
    • ‘To qualify for the Games in 2002, competitors had to show they could deliver a score or time which would rank them within the top ten in their event.’
    • ‘The U.S. and Germany were ranked fifth and sixth respectively.’
    • ‘I know that you can do better than that and just stay there because he has given you the most respect and ranked you higher than any other of his generals.’
    • ‘Also, they rank the choices within a given question, not across questions.’
    • ‘Seventy-four percent of the students ranked this last factor as least important.’
    • ‘They also fear it may lead to the introduction of school league tables ranking schools based on students' academic performance and/or other criteria.’
    • ‘In this admirable system, one ranks the candidates in order of preference.’
    • ‘Although being a team player was the most important trait to students, nurses ranked it ninth.’
    • ‘On this scale, one may now rank the different propulsion systems available to different types of civilizations.’
    • ‘They also send surveys to financial analysts asking them to rank companies within the industries they cover.’
    • ‘The proposed early job match pilot will allow students to rank jobs immediately after an interview and be informed of a perfect match within a day.’
    • ‘Because of the increased usage of the Internet for transacting business, students were asked to rank their understanding of e-commerce.’
    • ‘California ranks 18th among the states in its tax burden.’
    • ‘Students would rank each level as if it were a separate program.’
    • ‘Review the list above and rank yourself as you did with the first list.’
    • ‘Rugby ranks 15th among school sports and physical activities - just behind dance!’
    • ‘The service ranks the most popular search subjects each day, listing leaders in music, movies, sports, and TV, among others.’
    classify, class, categorize, rate, grade, type, order, sort, bracket, group, pigeonhole, designate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object, with adverbial Have a specified rank or place within a grading system.
      ‘he now ranks third in America’
      • ‘A number of internet sites publish current lists of gold funds, ranked by performance.’
      • ‘They spent much of the 2002 season ranked among the best in the province, only to stumble in an abbreviated playoff format due to a labour dispute.’
      • ‘The playing field is now upgraded with a drainage system and re-turfed to rank among the best in Colombo.’
      • ‘His achievement ranked among the best in Irish sport and his reward for lifting the spirits of a nation was to be named Irish Person of the Year at a televised ceremony.’
      • ‘To earn a place among the blue chips, companies must rank among the 100 biggest companies by stock market value.’
      • ‘Manchester and Edinburgh ranked among the British favourites.’
      • ‘My school was ranked as the Number One non-magnet, public high school in California last year.’
      • ‘These can rank among the most reliable of sources, when properly evaluated and analyzed.’
      • ‘Now aged 41 he believes that he has a good chance of a medal, particularly as his performances are still ranking among the top flight of athletes who have not yet reached veteran status.’
      • ‘Leadership ranks as the single most important ingredient to successful warfighting.’
      • ‘The once or twice my PE instructor, Sarge, forced me to play in public basketball competitions rank among my most painful memories.’
      • ‘The awards ceremony, when the list of 50 companies will be ranked according to percentage growth, is on Wednesday.’
      • ‘He must once again be ranked among the profession's leading designers and the gaming world is a better place because of it.’
      • ‘Its research in bio-technology and pharmaceuticals ranks among the world's best.’
      • ‘You are able to receive special interest rates that have consistently ranked among the highest in the nation.’
      • ‘At this point, anything will help a unit that ranks near the bottom of the NFL in average for kickoff coverage and returns.’
      • ‘I would say it ranks among the best in the world, and it's not just me who thinks so.’
      • ‘Financial concerns were ranked as the greatest obstacle for students of color attending graduate programs.’
      • ‘He says disciplinary matters have to be left to professional staff and points to the authority's ranking among the top performers in the country.’
      • ‘But the true of measure of its success is its efficiency, ranked among the best in the world.’
      have a rank, be graded, be placed, be positioned, have a status, be classed, be classified, be categorized
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2US with object Take precedence over (someone) in respect of rank; outrank.
      ‘the Secretary of State ranks all the other members of the cabinet’
  • 2with object and adverbial Arrange in a row or rows.

    ‘the tents were ranked in orderly rows’
    line up, align, draw up, put in order, set in order, order, place, position, arrange, dispose, set out, array, range
    View synonyms


  • break rank (or ranks)

    • 1(of soldiers or police officers) fail to remain in line.

      • ‘The entire squadron broke ranks, laughing, clapping and cheering.’
      • ‘Rather, they scattered, breaking rank, and fled towards the burning barracks.’
      • ‘However, they were slowly overwhelmed, and left with no other choice, the soldiers broke ranks and retreated.’
      • ‘When the first egg was discovered, we broke ranks to inspect it; it was slightly elongated, golf-ball-size, and camouflaged with dark green mottling on a light green field.’
      • ‘They charged the enemy then retreated, hoping the enemy would break ranks and pursue them into a well-coordinated trap.’
      • ‘The colonel told the soldiers to break ranks and gather around him.’
      • ‘Suddenly, without hesitation, they broke ranks, with a large group heading southeast in a V-shaped formation.’
      • ‘The soldiers would then break ranks and charge, raising their shields like the petals of a blooming flower.’
      • ‘The squad breaks ranks and enters the barracks.’
      • ‘All of us stamp our right foot and salute, before breaking ranks to go to our squadrons.’
      1. 1.1Fail to maintain solidarity.
        ‘the government is prepared to break ranks with the Allied states’
        • ‘The insider claims that a senior civil servant in the Home Office broke ranks and told his bosses that he could not go along with the official line.’
        • ‘This silence, I think, derives from a historical tradition emphasizing solidarity, a reluctance to break ranks.’
        • ‘A Yorkshire teacher will today call on his union to break ranks with the rest of the profession and back city academies.’
        • ‘Nineteen senators broke ranks with the administration.’
        • ‘Some Republicans break ranks with the White House.’
        • ‘There are times when even partisans have to break ranks if they want to maintain credibility, and this is one of them.’
        • ‘Some fiscal conservatives within the Republican Party broke ranks to protest the pet projects that are earmarked for lawmakers' home districts.’
        • ‘And many have refused to break ranks with tradition.’
        • ‘Then again, Malcolm, you probably wouldn't want to break ranks with your Fairfax colleagues.’
        • ‘Over the years though, ski resort operators noticed that they started losing money by turning snowboarders away, and when a few resorts broke ranks and began raking in the cash, eventually most resorts complied.’
  • close ranks

    • 1(of soldiers or police officers) come closer together in a line.

      • ‘I think that when the police feel under attack they tend to close ranks.’
      • ‘As the sons and daughters of professional Army officers, our impulse was to close ranks and stand where we were told to stand.’
      1. 1.1Unite in order to defend common interests.
        ‘the family had always closed ranks in times of crisis’
        • ‘The food industry was closing ranks today over the prospect of introducing a traffic light-style scheme to label the healthiness of foods.’
        • ‘Their unprecedented public embrace confirmed the government was closing ranks against a common foe.’
        • ‘It is not, however, clear that the community is united enough yet to effectively close ranks against coalition forces.’
        • ‘The teammates, all female, asserted that her terrifying behavior that day justified their permanently closing ranks against her.’
        • ‘But this morning, the Administration's best and brightest were closing ranks.’
        • ‘When an academic exposes some problem such as favouritism, plagiarism or sexual abuse, it is common for senior academics and administrators to close ranks and squelch open discussion.’
        • ‘But independent pharmacists are already closing ranks to fight any proposed changes.’
        • ‘Publicly, the party was one step closer to closing ranks.’
        • ‘We should both call on all our supporters to prepare themselves to close ranks as Americans and unite the country behind the winner as soon as this process is complete.’
        • ‘Why don't we close ranks, to face these economic interests?’
  • keep rank

    • (of soldiers or police officers) remain in line.

  • pull rank

    • Take unfair advantage of one's seniority.

      ‘someone pulled rank and took my place’
      • ‘The skipper, to his credit, doesn't just pull rank and yell at him.’
      • ‘Papa, a captain when he left the reserves, still knew how to pull rank.’
      • ‘The coach pulls rank and throws somebody out of their seat.’
      • ‘When Ricky broke his arm and was kept waiting because of insurance concerns, Melissa finally pulled rank as a legislator's wife and got her family added to his state coverage - at a cost of about $300 a month.’
      • ‘So who do you think you're kidding by pulling rank on me?’
      • ‘The phone lines are soon filled, and most of the stories have a common theme: The junior senator pulling rank on one of his constituents, breaking in line, demanding to pay less, or ducking out before the bill arrives.’
      • ‘When pulling rank fails to get him off the hook, Wade resorts to desperate measures to escape justice.’
      • ‘For the next few days, he denied he had tried to pull rank.’
      • ‘The chairman pulled rank, as they so often do in such open and shut cases, and persuaded his underlings he was entitled to enter his court.’
      • ‘Sometimes you just have to pull rank because you are the adult.’
  • rise through (or from) the ranks

    • 1(of a private or a non-commissioned officer) receive a commission.

      • ‘He graduated from West Point in 1917 and rose through the ranks as an infantry officer.’
      • ‘During the war he rose through the ranks from an officer school cadet to a major in command of a rifle battalion.’
      • ‘Michael quickly rose through the ranks as orderly sergeant, first lieutenant and captain.’
      • ‘Very few officers rose from the ranks, and those who did were disliked.’
      • ‘He rose through the ranks of the military and was appointed Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Defence on 6 June 1940.’
      • ‘I had to become a soldier who would rise through the ranks and emerge a commander of men.’
      • ‘In the process, he became a military strategist, rising through the ranks from major to brigadier general.’
      • ‘Later, his father rose through the ranks in the army, but he never forgot.’
      • ‘Only those that could understand the Colonel could rise through the ranks.’
      • ‘He stayed with the brigade, rising through the ranks to chief fire officer, until it was disbanded when the works closed in 1982.’
      1. 1.1Advance in an organization by one's own efforts.
        ‘he rose through the ranks to become managing director’
        • ‘He rapidly rose through the ranks until he was offered the chance to be its Leeds-based director of operations for the north of England and Scotland.’
        • ‘A few years later he became a pilot and rose through the ranks to management grade by the time he was 30.’
        • ‘He joined the airline in the 1980s and steadily rose through the ranks before eventually taking over responsibility for the day-to-day running of the airline.’
        • ‘Her first job was as a sales assistant, but she soon rose through the ranks to become a buyer for a major department store.’
        • ‘As Condit rose through the ranks, his private life became more of an issue within the company.’
        • ‘The corporation grew rapidly, and she rose through the ranks, becoming the deputy head of the legal department.’
        • ‘Born in Yorkshire in 1910 she began her political career in the 1940s and rose through the ranks to become Transport Minister.’
        • ‘After working as a welder he attended university, and rose through the ranks of the steel industry to emerge as deputy head of a large steel mill.’
        • ‘From there he rose through the ranks to become operations director in 1992.’
        • ‘He rose through the ranks at the firm, which his father Sydney had helped to set up, eventually becoming a director and then spending ten years as chairman.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘row of things’): from Old French ranc, of Germanic origin; related to ring.




Main definitions of rank in English

: rank1rank2



  • 1(of vegetation) growing too thickly and coarsely.

    ‘clumps of rank grass’
    • ‘He slipped, stumbled, and fell full length into the rank grass.’
    • ‘Corncrakes, for instance, live in rank grass and high meadow.’
    • ‘Light weight and enormous toes enable them to negotiate rank vegetation by simply walking over the top.’
    • ‘Wall Street has never been a safe place to play, but now your investments could be skewed by rank dishonesty.’
    • ‘The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby has also commented on the rank hypocrisy that is being demonstrated here.’
    • ‘Last year, it was also discovered that the site has a thriving population of the endangered water vole due to the rank grass which provides ideal protection and a source of food.’
    • ‘Then we re-entered the dunes and walked the edge of Newborough Warren, the grassed over portion of the nature reserve which is grazed by grey ponies to keep down rank grasses and for the benefit of the sand wasp.’
    • ‘Engulfing new plantings, the rank growth took on the appearance of an emergent urban ecosystem.’
    • ‘We were up quite high on the southern side of the Uldale, a flank of rough rank grasses, rushes, and countless seepage and springs.’
    • ‘We saw the ponies, here to eat the rank vegetation.’
    • ‘She causes, some say, desolation, evil, and decay, yet she also creates palaces of art and culture, gardens of rank luxuriance.’
    • ‘Behind these violent and ugly displays of rank bullying lies a profound irony.’
    • ‘The parklike understory turned into rank undergrowth, and the inevitable result was a bushfire that destroyed all the old-growth, hollow trees.’
    • ‘What a sad impression York makes here; traffic islands are poorly gardened, few are landscaped and all are covered in rank weeds and seedlings giving the appearance of set-aside fields.’
    • ‘But as the rains progress, they abandon the tall, rank grass in the floodplains and woodlands in search of more palatable foodstuff.’
    abundant, lush, luxuriant, dense, profuse, flourishing, exuberant, vigorous, productive, spreading, overgrown
    View synonyms
  • 2Having a foul or offensive smell.

    ‘breathing rank air’
    • ‘The rank smell of the soaking water and the crispness of the soaked cabbage shreds indicate that this is a worthwhile step.’
    • ‘‘I think every piece of that title is vital,’ Slutsky explains through steady gusts of hot, rank air.’
    • ‘The flesh was pale grey in the thin light and the stomach had a harsh, rank smell.’
    • ‘Scars were abundant in the little group and there was a definite rank smell about them.’
    • ‘A rank smell filled her nose and she put it down as Mistee began talking.’
    • ‘A rank smell wafted its way towards Hailey's nose.’
    • ‘Mounted fans whirred overhead, efficiently distributing the rank air and grime into all corners.’
    • ‘The rank odor of stale sweat filled the dank air.’
    • ‘You couldn't walk past his bedroom door without noticing that acrid, rank acidic smell.’
    • ‘It was nighttime outside, dark and cloudy, so the sewers were pitch black, and he landed knee deep in rank stinking water.’
    • ‘The hand on his shoulder was moved to cover his mouth; Braiden smelt the man's rank breath as he leaned heavily on the boy's slender frame.’
    • ‘He needs to do something about the rank smell of dead fish emanating from the bathrooms.’
    • ‘She could smell his rank breath as he whispered fervently to her.’
    • ‘As she got closer she could smell the sweat on him and the rank smell of horse.’
    • ‘A rank smell of decay and woodrot drifted from inside the helmet.’
    • ‘The rank smoky smell recalls the lamp at Uncle Don's lodge on the lake where Jack and I went to swim on hot nights.’
    offensive, unpleasant, nasty, disagreeable, revolting, sickening, obnoxious, noxious
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    1. 2.1informal Very unpleasant.
      ‘the tea at work is nice but the coffee's pretty rank’
  • 3attributive (especially of something bad or deficient) complete and utter (used for emphasis)

    ‘rank stupidity’
    ‘a rank outsider’
    • ‘It is rank intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy on your part.’
    • ‘I think of myself a political moderate, but the callousness and the rank inefficiency of much of the current Republican party leadership leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.’
    • ‘The point about the market is that it is not only immoral - or rather amoral - it is also capable of rank stupidity.’
    • ‘But he frankly identifies the rank dishonesty of the memo.’
    • ‘And when taken to extremes, such as at these schools in Kirkland and Puyallup, political correctness sinks to the realm of rank stupidity.’
    • ‘You represent rank imperialism and warmongering - neither of them American traditions or values - so I wish you were not coming to this country.’
    • ‘Her Sunday column was rank hypocrisy.’
    • ‘It is clear that your hate is founded in your arrogant elitism and your rank racism.’
    • ‘‘You have to believe that the station chief blew a gift from the gods because of rank incompetence,’ Mr. Perle said.’
    • ‘Insults to public intelligence and rank stupidity became commonplace.’
    • ‘Now, Dave's column is rank idiocy.’
    • ‘How Americans will react to this rank ingratitude is beyond me.’
    • ‘I refuse to forgive the rank idiocy of this dog's owner.’
    • ‘The product of the Soviets' laudable campaign for universal public housing, Petrzalka's rank ugliness serves only to emphasize what a jewel the old part of the city is.’
    • ‘Please, let's not kill the spirit of the season with rank stupidity.’
    downright, utter, outright, out-and-out, absolute, complete, sheer, stark, thorough, thoroughgoing, categorical, unequivocal, undeniable, unqualified, unmodified, unrestricted, unmitigated, unconditional, positive, simple, wholesale, all-out, perfect, consummate, patent, pure, total, entire, flat, direct, dead, final, conclusive
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Old English ranc ‘proud, rebellious, sturdy’, also ‘fully grown’, of Germanic origin. An early sense ‘luxuriant’ gave rise to ‘too luxuriant’, whence the negative connotation of modern usage.