View synonyms for rank



[ rangk ]


  1. a number of persons forming a separate class in a social hierarchy or in any graded body.
  2. a social or official position or standing, as in the armed forces:

    the rank of captain.

  3. high position or station in the social or some similar scale:

    a woman of rank.

    Synonyms: dignity, eminence, distinction

  4. a class in any scale of comparison.
  5. relative position or standing:

    a writer of the first rank.

  6. a row, line, or series of things or persons:

    orchestra players arranged in ranks.

    Synonyms: tier, range

  7. ranks,
    1. the members of an armed service apart from its officers; enlisted personnel.
    2. military enlisted personnel as a group.
  8. Usually ranks. the general body of any party, society, or organization apart from the officers or leaders.
  9. orderly arrangement; array.

    Synonyms: series, disposition

  10. a line of persons, especially soldiers, standing abreast in close-order formation ( file ).
  11. British. a place or station occupied by vehicles available for hire; stand:

    a taxi rank.

  12. Chess, Checkers. one of the horizontal lines of squares on a chessboard or checkerboard.
  13. a set of organ pipes of the same kind and tonal color.
  14. Also called determinant rank. Mathematics. the order of the nonzero determinant of greatest order that can be selected from a given matrix by the elimination of rows and columns.
  15. Mining. the classification of coal according to hardness, from lignite to anthracite.

verb (used with object)

  1. to arrange in ranks or in regular formation:

    The men were ranked according to height. He ranked the chess pieces on the board.

    Synonyms: array, range, align

  2. to assign to a particular position, station, class, etc.:

    She was ranked among the most admired citizens.

  3. to outrank:

    The colonel ranks all other officers in the squadron.

  4. Slang. to insult; criticize.

verb (used without object)

  1. to form a rank or ranks.
  2. to take up or occupy a place in a particular rank, class, etc.:

    to rank well ahead of the other students.

  3. to have rank or standing.
  4. to be the senior in rank:

    The colonel ranks at this camp.

  5. Slang. to complain.



[ rangk ]


, rank·er, rank·est.
  1. growing with excessive luxuriance; vigorous and tall of growth:

    tall rank weeds.

    Synonyms: exuberant, abundant

  2. producing an excessive and coarse growth, as land.
  3. having an offensively strong smell or taste:

    a rank cigar.

  4. offensively strong, as a smell or taste.
  5. utter; absolute:

    a rank amateur; rank treachery.

    Synonyms: entire, sheer, complete

  6. highly offensive; disgusting:

    a rank sight of carnage.

    Synonyms: repellent, repulsive

  7. grossly coarse, vulgar, or indecent:

    rank language.

    Synonyms: foul

  8. Slang. inferior; contemptible.



[ rahngk ]


  1. Ot·to [awt, -oh], 1884–1939, Austrian psychoanalyst.



/ ræŋk /


  1. showing vigorous and profuse growth

    rank weeds

  2. highly offensive or disagreeable, esp in smell or taste
  3. prenominal complete or absolute; utter

    a rank outsider

  4. coarse or vulgar; gross

    his language was rank




  1. ræŋk RankJ(oseph) Arthur, 1st Baron18881972MBritishBUSINESS: industrialistFILMS AND TV: executive J ( oseph ) Arthur , 1st Baron. 1888–1972, British industrialist and film executive, whose companies dominated the British film industry in the 1940s and 1950s
  2. raŋk RankOtto18841939MAustrianMEDICINE: psychoanalyst Otto (ˈɔto). 1884–1939, Austrian psychoanalyst, noted for his theory that the trauma of birth may be reflected in certain forms of mental illness



/ ræŋk /


  1. a position, esp an official one, within a social organization, esp the armed forces

    the rank of captain

  2. high social or other standing; status
  3. a line or row of people or things
  4. the position of an item in any ordering or sequence
  5. a place where taxis wait to be hired
  6. See file
    a line of soldiers drawn up abreast of each other Compare file 1
  7. any of the eight horizontal rows of squares on a chessboard
  8. (in systemic grammar) one of the units of description of which a grammar is composed. Ranks of English grammar are sentence, clause, group, word, and morpheme
  9. music a set of organ pipes controlled by the same stop
  10. maths (of a matrix) the largest number of linearly independent rows or columns; the number of rows (or columns) of the nonzero determinant of greatest order that can be extracted from the matrix
  11. break ranks
    break ranks military to fall out of line, esp when under attack
  12. close ranks
    close ranks to maintain discipline or solidarity, esp in anticipation of attack
  13. pull rank
    pull rank to get one's own way by virtue of one's superior position or rank


  1. tr to arrange (people or things) in rows or lines; range
  2. to accord or be accorded a specific position in an organization, society, or group
  3. tr to array (a set of objects) as a sequence, esp in terms of the natural arithmetic ordering of some measure of the elements

    to rank students by their test scores

  4. intr to be important; rate

    money ranks low in her order of priorities

  5. to take precedence or surpass in rank

    the colonel ranks at this camp

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Derived Forms

  • ˈrankness, noun
  • ˈrankly, adverb

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Other Words From

  • rankless adjective
  • un·ranked adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of rank1

First recorded in 1560–70; from French ranc (noun, obsolete), Old French renc, ranc, rang “row, line,” from Germanic, akin to ring 1

Origin of rank2

First recorded before 1000; Middle English; Old English ranc “bold, proud, mature, showy”; cognate with Old Norse rakkr “slender, straight, bold”; the original Germanic sense was probably “upright”; the development of the meanings in English is uncertain

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Word History and Origins

Origin of rank1

Old English ranc straight, noble; related to Old Norse rakkr upright, Dutch, Swedish rank tall and thin, weak

Origin of rank2

C16: from Old French ranc row, rank, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German hring circle

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. break ranks,
    1. to leave an assigned position in a military formation.
    2. to disagree with, defect from, or refuse to support one's colleagues, party, or the like.
  2. pull rank (on), to make use of one's superior rank to gain an advantage over (someone). Also pull one's rank (on).

More idioms and phrases containing rank

In addition to the idiom beginning with rank , also see break ranks ; close ranks ; pull rank ; rise through the ranks .

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Synonym Study

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Example Sentences

As of the time of this writing, the Core Web Vitals seems to be the most important ranking news to come out in 2020 in practical terms.

The post Keywords in generic top-level domains won’t help you rank better appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Most have very little weight in SEO and are often used as tie-breakers rather than ranking signals.

Even 13 million climate migrants, though, would rank as the largest migration in North American history.

Meredith — publisher of Better Homes & Gardens, Allrecipes and Southern Living — is ranked number two on License Global’s list, just behind The Walt Disney Company.

From Digiday

Absolutely: “Courage I would rank now in the hierarchy of art and love.”

Neary had held the rank of lieutenant since 1983 and received multiple commendations during nearly four decades on the job.

Only five African-American females hold a rank higher than GS-14 within the Secret Service.

Asked what kind of support he got from rank-and-file Democrats, he paused before replying with a hearty laugh.

I was of extremely low rank, a Senior Aircraftman – only one rung above the bottom.

He distinguished himself in several campaigns, especially in the Peninsular war, and was raised to the rank of field marshal.

The high rank, the great riches of his father he rather implied than definitely mentioned.

As each company front formed the knees of the rank and file seemed to give way.

It was commenced in 1883, from a philanthropic feeling, but must rank among trade societies as much as many others.

If Wee Willie Winkie took an interest in anyone, the fortunate man was envied alike by the mess and the rank and file.


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More About Rank

What does rank mean?

Rank most commonly refers to the position or status that has been assigned to someone or something to distinguish it from others in a group.

In certain organizations, especially the military, rank refers to someone’s official position in a hierarchy—an organizational structure in which people have increasing levels of authority based on their rank. For example, in the military, the lowest rank may be private, and the highest rank may be general.

The word can also be used to refer to less official positions or statuses (ones that have not been assigned but exist based on other factors), such as a person’s status within society. Rank can also be used collectively to refer to all of the people within a group with the same status.

As a verb, rank most commonly means to assign something a status or position to distinguish it from others in a group, as in Please rank the top five candidates in order from best to worst. It can also mean to have a particular rank or position, as in She ranks above all the other executives.

The verb rank is sometimes used in overlapping ways with the verb rate, but rate most commonly means to assign something a value or rating independently of other things, whereas rank typically means to determine the position of something compared to other things.

Unrelatedly, rank can also be used as an adjective meaning offensively strong, especially in smell or taste, as in There’s a rank odor coming from the trash can. 

Rank is a very common word and has many other specific meanings as a noun, verb, and adjective.

Where does rank come from?

The first records of the word rank as an adjective come from before 1000. It comes from the Old English ranc, meaning “bold, proud, mature, showy.” The noun and verb senses of rank came later and have a different origin—the Old French ranc, meaning “row” or “line.”

The word rank can refer to a group of soldiers standing in a formation of rows. To break ranks is to leave one’s position in this formation, or, in a figurative sense, to disagree with or refuse to support one’s fellow members.

Used by itself, the plural form ranks refers collectively to the general members of an organization apart from its officers or leaders. The term rank and file refers to the same thing.

Most of the time, rank indicates authority or power. Generally, the higher your rank, the more power you have in a society or chain of command. To pull rank is to use your authority to make others comply.

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What are some other forms related to rank?

  • ranked (past tense verb, adjective)
  • ranking (continuous tense verb, noun, adjective)

What are some synonyms for rank?

What are some words that share a root or word element with rank


What are some words that often get used in discussing rank?


What are some words rank may be commonly confused with?


How is rank used in real life?

Rank is a very common word that can be used in many different contexts. Most of its uses deal with the position of someone or something in relation to others.



Try using rank!

Is rank used correctly in the following sentence?

Many students work to improve their class rank based on their grades, but extracurricular activities should also be a priority.

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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




Ranjit Singhrank and file