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

Other Words from rancid

rancidity \ ran-​ˈsi-​də-​tē How to pronounce rancid (audio) \ noun
rancidness \ ˈran(t)-​səd-​nəs How to pronounce rancid (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 Those memories turned hard and rancid once touched by the reality of the present. Bolu Babalola, ELLE, 29 June 2022 In Ukraine, the elderly are collecting rancid rain runoff for drinking water. Tracy Wilkinsonstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 27 June 2022 Because the acting is so strong, especially from Henry and Matthews — both of whom radiate intensity, the former in shimmering forgiveness, the latter in rancid resentment — the family misfortunes seem, moment by moment, to add up. David Benedict, Variety, 26 June 2022 Old oil is often full of particulate matter, which lends the chicken a darker color and, worse, a rancid flavor. Kate Williams, USA TODAY, 1 Apr. 2022 Once its about 40 pounds, the corm has enough energy to bloom and put off its powerful rancid smell. Joe Mario Pedersen, Orlando Sentinel, 25 Apr. 2022 It’s that mixture of brine, fish, digestion, rancid oil, and Death — an aggressive smell that will clothe me for weeks after. Peter Wayne Moe, Longreads, 25 Feb. 2022 If that's grade-A beef, call this one a rancid veggie burger. Joshua Rothkopf, EW.com, 19 Feb. 2022 They were pummeled with rocks, bricks, bottles of urine and bottles of rancid milk. Mirna Alsharif And Chris Hippensteel, CNN, 3 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About rancid

Dictionary Entries Near rancid




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for rancid

Last Updated

1 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Rancid.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rancid. Accessed 6 Jul. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for rancid


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

More from Merriam-Webster on rancid

Nglish: Translation of rancid for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rancid for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!