• synonyms


  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.
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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 of rancidity

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

    Outlines of dairy bacteriology

    H. L. Russell

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

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

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

  • It cannot, however, be accepted as a certainty that bacteria cause the rancidity of fats.

    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
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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 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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

rancidity in Medicine


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