ran·​cid | \ ˈran(t)-səd How to pronounce rancid (audio) \

Definition of rancid

1 : having an unpleasant smell or taste usually from chemical change or decomposition rancid butter rancid breath
2 : distinctly unpleasant or distasteful : offensive a rancid sexual scandal Without free speech, even in its most rancid forms, we may have nothing to choose at night but old movies and "Heeeeeeeere's Johnny!"— Richard Corliss

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Other Words from rancid

rancidity \ ran-​ˈsi-​də-​tē How to pronounce rancidity (audio) \ noun
rancidness \ ˈran(t)-​səd-​nəs How to pronounce rancidness (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?

Rancid has a fairly straightforward history; it derives from Latin rancidus, itself from the Latin verb rancēre, meaning "to be rancid" or "to stink." In addition to the related words rancidness and rancidity, another descendant of rancēre in English is rancor, meaning "bitter deep-seated ill will." (Rancor passed through Middle French rather than being borrowed into English directly.) These days, rancid also has developed a second, extended sense which is used in the context of offenses to less literal or physical senses than those of smell or taste, and you might see references to "rancid behavior" or "a rancid personality."

Examples of rancid in a Sentence

Some foods become rancid quickly. an unscrupulous food vendor who's as rancid as the meat that he serves

Recent Examples on the Web

States have tried burying them on beaches, dumping them in landfills, sinking them at sea, and on one notable occasion that was caught on camera, blowing them up with dynamite, which sent rancid chunks of whale raining down on spectators. New York Times, "A Beached Whale Needs Somewhere to Rot. How About Your Place?," 17 June 2019 The reverent gentlemen of the cloister, gourmets to a fault, extolled his creations as good deeds shining in the usually rancid world of pastry cookery. Bruce Dale, National Geographic, "Adored, neglected, and restored: A 1968 Nat Geo feature explored Notre Dame," 17 Apr. 2019 Players grew to enormous size after eating rancid hot dogs and falling into toxic lakes. Christopher Borrelli, chicagotribune.com, "Before the movie, ‘Rampage’ the video game offered destruction without death," 11 Apr. 2018 Community's enthusiastic fanbase kept it afloat for years beyond its sell-by date, firing its showrunner then rehiring him after an especially rancid fourth season. Tom Philip, GQ, "Just Let Great TV Shows Die With Dignity," 17 May 2018 Sullivan says a rancid scent could mean your body is struggling with digestion issues. Samantha Lefave, Redbook, "Why You Should Never Ignore Sweet-Smelling Urine (or These Other Body Odors)," 3 Aug. 2018 The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner drew the No. 1 gate for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, a spot Baffert typically enjoys as much as rancid milk. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Justify gets the rail for Belmont Stakes, Bob Baffert's least favorite spot," 5 June 2018 Durian are just about synonymous with their repulsive odor, which (to be fair) has whiffs of sweetness that are immediately overwhelmed by notes of corrosion and rancid egg. Amy B Wang, Washington Post, "Fears of a gas leak forced an evacuation at a Melbourne university. It was a durian.," 29 Apr. 2018 Though the brand makes some of the most heralded beers in the industry, drinkers quickly began complaining of sour and rancid off flavors. Josh Noel, chicagotribune.com, "Goose Island wins lawsuit over infected Bourbon County," 14 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rancid.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of rancid

1627, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for rancid

Latin rancidus, from rancēre to be rancid

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Statistics for rancid

Last Updated

23 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for rancid

The first known use of rancid was in 1627

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More Definitions for rancid



English Language Learners Definition of rancid

of food : having a strong and unpleasant smell or taste from no longer being fresh
chiefly US : full of anger and bitterness


ran·​cid | \ ˈran-səd How to pronounce rancid (audio) \

Kids Definition of rancid

: having a strong disagreeable smell or taste from no longer being fresh rancid butter


ran·​cid | \ ˈran(t)-səd How to pronounce rancid (audio) \

Medical Definition of rancid

: having a rank smell or taste usually from chemical change or decomposition rancid butter

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More from Merriam-Webster on rancid

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rancid

Spanish Central: Translation of rancid

Nglish: Translation of rancid for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rancid for Arabic Speakers

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