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  1. having a rank, unpleasant, stale smell or taste, as through decomposition, especially of fats or oils: rancid butter.
  2. (of an odor or taste) rank, unpleasant, and stale: a rancid smell.
  3. offensive or nasty; disagreeable.

Origin of rancid

1640–50; < Latin rancidus rank, stinking, equivalent to ranc(ēre) to be rotten + -idus -id4
Related formsran·cid·ly, adverbran·cid·ness, ran·cid·i·ty, nounun·ran·cid, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rancidity

Historical Examples

  • The most common defect known is that usually referred to as rancidity.

    Outlines of dairy bacteriology

    H. L. Russell

  • This change is usually a rancidity that is observed in all stale products of this class.

  • Practically, rancidity is held in check by storing butter at low temperatures where germ growth is quite suspended.

  • Not only does it vary much in freedom from acid and rancidity, but is frequently adulterated.

  • Formerly, the acidity of a fat was looked upon as the direct measure of its rancidity.

    Soap-Making Manual

    E. G. Thomssen

British Dictionary definitions for rancidity


  1. (of butter, bacon, etc) having an unpleasant stale taste or smell as the result of decomposition
  2. (of a taste or smell) rank or sour; stale
Derived Formsrancidity (rænˈsɪdɪtɪ) or rancidness, noun

Word Origin

C17: from Latin rancidus rank, from rancēre to stink
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for rancidity



1640s, from Latin rancidus "rank, stinking, offensive" (also source of Italian rancido, Spanish rancio), from rancere "be spoiled or rotten," of unknown origin. German ranzig is from French rancide. Related: Rancidness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

rancidity in Medicine


([object Object])
  1. Having the disagreeable odor or taste of decomposing oils or fats.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

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