having a rank, unpleasant, stale smell or taste, as through decomposition, especially of fats or oils: rancid butter.
(of an odor or taste) rank, unpleasant, and stale: a rancid smell.
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. 2019

Examples from the Web for rancid

Contemporary Examples of rancid

Historical Examples of rancid

  • The rancid smell of bedding struck his sensitive nostrils from within.

  • The smell of hot, rancid grease struck him like a solid wall.

    The Coffin Cure

    Alan Edward Nourse

  • It smelled as if it had been boiling three weeks in a rancid pot.

    The Coffin Cure

    Alan Edward Nourse

  • A pity that he goes about so unclean, smelling of rancid sanctity!

    Luna Benamor

    Vicente Blasco Ibez

  • It proved to be dried beans and corn cooked with rancid tallow!

British Dictionary definitions for rancid



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

Word Origin for rancid

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 rancid

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

rancid in Medicine




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.