\ˈraŋk \

Definition of rank 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : relative standing or position

b : a degree or position of dignity, eminence, or excellence : distinction soon took rank as a leading attorney— J. D. Hicks

c : high social position the privileges of rank

d : a grade of official standing in a hierarchy

2 : an aggregate of individuals classed together usually used in plural

3a : row, series

b : a row of people

c(1) : a line of soldiers ranged side by side in close order

(2) ranks plural : armed forces

(3) ranks plural : the body of enlisted personnel

d : any of the rows of squares that extend across a chessboard perpendicular to the files

e British : stand sense 6

4 : an orderly arrangement : formation

5 : the order according to some statistical characteristic (such as the score on a test)

6 : any of a series of classes of coal based on increasing alteration of the parent vegetable matter, increasing carbon content, and increasing fuel value

7 : the number of linearly independent rows or columns in a matrix


ranked; ranking; ranks

Definition of rank (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to determine the relative position of : rate a highly ranked prospect

2 : to arrange in lines or in a regular formation

3 : to take precedence of

intransitive verb

1 : to take or have a position in relation to others ranks first in her class

2 : to form or move in ranks



Definition of rank (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : offensive in odor or flavor especially : rancid

2a : shockingly conspicuous must lecture him on his rank disloyalty— David Walden

b : outright used as an intensive rank beginners

3 : luxuriantly or excessively vigorous in growth

4 : offensively gross or coarse : foul

6 : high in amount or degree : fraught

7 archaic : lustful, ruttish

8 obsolete : grown too large

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Other Words from rank


rankly adverb
rankness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for rank

Synonyms: Noun

degree, echelon, footing, level, place, position, ranking, reach(es), rung, situation, standing, station, status, stratum

Synonyms: Verb

be, grade, place, rate, stand

Synonyms: Adjective

lush, luxuriant, prosperous, rampant, weedy

Antonyms: Adjective


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for rank


malodorous, stinking, fetid, noisome, putrid, rank, fusty, musty mean bad-smelling. malodorous may range from the unpleasant to the strongly offensive. malodorous fertilizers stinking and fetid suggest the foul or disgusting. prisoners were held in stinking cells the fetid odor of skunk cabbage noisome adds a suggestion of being harmful or unwholesome as well as offensive. a stagnant, noisome sewer putrid implies particularly the sickening odor of decaying organic matter. the putrid smell of rotting fish rank suggests a strong unpleasant smell. rank cigar smoke fusty and musty suggest lack of fresh air and sunlight, fusty also implying prolonged uncleanliness, musty stressing the effects of dampness, mildew, or age. a fusty attic the musty odor of a damp cellar

flagrant, glaring, gross, rank mean conspicuously bad or objectionable. flagrant applies usually to offenses or errors so bad that they can neither escape notice nor be condoned. flagrant abuse of the office of president glaring implies painful or damaging obtrusiveness of something that is conspicuously wrong, faulty, or improper. glaring errors gross implies the exceeding of reasonable or excusable limits. gross carelessness rank applies to what is openly and extremely objectionable and utterly condemned. rank heresy

Examples of rank in a Sentence


people of high rank and profession She's not concerned about rank or wealth. officers with the rank of captain He rose to the rank of partner in the law firm. He longed to join the upper social ranks. military ranks such as private, corporal, and sergeant He moved up through the ranks to become vice president of the company. The organization's ranks have doubled in the past two years. The flu swept through the ranks, infecting almost every soldier. Several men were selected from the ranks.


A magazine recently ranked the school as one of the best in the country. The city currently ranks as the world's largest. Students who rank in the top third of their class have a better chance of being accepted to the college of their choice.


You can't expect a rank beginner like her to know all the rules of the game. covered with trumpet vines so rank you couldn't see the trellis beneath them
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Scarlet Lady will be joining the ranks of Seabourn, Norwegian, Oceania, Royal Caribbean, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, among other lines sailing to the island. Bridget Hallinan, Condé Nast Traveler, "Virgin Voyages Is Sailing to Cuba in 2020," 1 Nov. 2018 In just a short time, actress Jessica Lowndes has become a fan-favorite actress on the Hallmark Channel, joining the ranks of several other popular leading ladies like Lacey Chabert and Candace Cameron Bure. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Country Living, "Who Is Jessica Lowndes? All About the Star of Hallmark's 'Christmas at Pemberley Manor'," 27 Oct. 2018 And now, Wayfair has officially joined the ranks of stores with awesome membership programs, with the launch of their new program, MyWay. Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, "Wayfair Just Launched A New Membership Program That You're Definitely Going To Love," 16 Oct. 2018 There's a new noninvasive fat-reducing treatment joining the ranks of CoolSculpting, SculpSure, and EmSculpt, which either melt or freeze off stubborn pockets of fat from the outside in. Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, "Exclusive: Cutera Is Launching TruSculpt iD, a 15-Minute Body-Contouring Treatment," 25 Sep. 2018 Born in northern Ninh Binh province, Quang attended a police college and rose through the ranks at the powerful Ministry of Public Security before being appointed minister in 2011. Fox News, "Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang dies of illness at 61," 21 Sep. 2018 With their new gear, the leafy sea dragons joined the growing ranks of animals fitted with some sort of prosthetic (though their rings are more assistive devices than ones meant to replace a body part). Karin Brulliard, The Seattle Times, "To save fish that can’t swim, veterinarian made them tiny floaties," 4 Sep. 2018 Today as a reflection of the esteem in which his colleagues and our country hold him, Senator John McCain joins those ranks. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Vice President Mike Pence Pays Tribute to John McCain in Speech at His Memorial Service," 31 Aug. 2018 The Wojnowski name will not be entirely leaving the ranks at the department, as his brother, Mike Wojnowski, is currently assistant chief of the department. Nicole Aimone, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Retiring Tess Corners fire chief built a career on being humble and serving others," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The algorithm can also create a list of animals ranked by their risk of carrying disease, as well as a description of the traits that determine that risk. Mallory Locklear, Discover Magazine, "With Big Data and Predictive Analytics, Scientists Are Getting Smarter About Outbreaks," 8 Nov. 2018 Nelson, who flew on the Space Shuttle as a member of the House in 1986, has been active in NASA policy as the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the space agency. Verge Staff, The Verge, "What the new Congress means for space, self-driving cars, and regulating Facebook," 7 Nov. 2018 We scent-tested the ten most popular pumpkin candles on the market and ranked them from worst to best. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "The 10 Most Popular Pumpkin Candles, Ranked," 9 Oct. 2018 Philip Plisson/Courtesy Compagnie du Ponant Condé Nast Traveler readers rank the best cruise lines in the world, from mega ships to river cruises. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "The World's Best Cruise Lines (Full List): Readers' Choice Awards 2018," 9 Oct. 2018 Additionally, about 66% of respondents found uncomfortable beds and towels to be irritating, ranking these amenities either first or second. Monique Valeris, ELLE Decor, "Airbnb Plus Reveals the Amenities Travelers Really Care About," 28 Aug. 2018 Yesterday, Nicki Minaj took to Twitter to express her frustrations that her new album, Queen, which released on August 10, didn't rank as number one, but Travis Scott's latest release, Astroworld, did. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Nicki Minaj Is Disgusted Kylie Jenner Is Using Stormi to Promote Travis Scott's Tour," 20 Aug. 2018 Overwhelmingly white and male, these people are purporting to cower in fear before the rare African-American woman in the administration (Kellyanne Conway just struggled to name a high-ranking African-American member of Trump’s West Wing staff). Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Omarosa May Be Ridiculous, But She’s Not a “Terror”," 13 Aug. 2018 Legal experts said the judge could threaten contempt of court – and jail time – against lower-ranking members of federal agencies, could order hefty fines or order the agency heads to appear in court as a form of public shaming. Alan Gomez, USA TODAY, "How a judge can punish Trump administration over separated families," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The department did not rank intersections by crashes for 2014 and 2015. Jennifer Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Dempster-Potter had highest number of reported crashes last year: Park Ridge police," 19 June 2018 And while Latvian elections don’t exactly rank high on the list of an American president’s priorities, the White House could have guessed what the Russians were gearing up to do — and should have sent them a forceful message to knock it off. Ian Bremmer, Time, "Yes, Obama Mishandled Russia's Election Hacking. But So Has Trump," 22 Feb. 2018 Key to that turnaround has been the Horns' ability to get opposing offenses off the field — their rank sixth nationally in third-down conversion defense. Nick Moyle, Houston Chronicle, "College football preview: Oklahoma State at Texas," 20 Oct. 2017 Any attempt to model tax liability in the new system will be rank speculation. David L. Bahnsen, National Review, "A Fairer Tax Code Is a More Efficient Tax Code," 17 Oct. 2017 The design style did not rank number one in any state. Jenna Milliner-waddell, ELLE Decor, "The Most-Searched Design Style In The United States Is So Unexpected," 10 Aug. 2017 The nexus inspires the most rank forms of situational ethics and rationalizations. The Hive, "Obama Cashes In—And the Media Piles On," 28 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rank.' 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 rank


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a


1573, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for rank


Middle English, from Anglo-French renc, reng, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German hring ring — more at ring


Middle English, from Old English ranc overbearing, strong; akin to Old Norse rakkr erect and perhaps to Old English riht right — more at right

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Statistics for rank

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rank

The first known use of rank was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for rank



English Language Learners Definition of rank

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: having a strong, unpleasant smell

: very bad and obvious

: complete or total



English Language Learners Definition of rank (Entry 2 of 3)

: a position in a society, organization, group, etc.

: a high position in a society, organization, group, etc.

ranks : the people or things that belong to a particular organization or group



English Language Learners Definition of rank (Entry 3 of 3)

: to place (someone or something) in a particular position among a group of people or things that are being judged according to quality, ability, size, etc.

: to have a particular position in a group of people or things that are being judged according to quality, ability, size, etc.

: to arrange (people or things) in a line or row


\ˈraŋk \

Kids Definition of rank

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : row entry 2 sense 1, series ranks of houses

2 : a line of soldiers standing side by side

3 ranks plural : the body of enlisted persons in an army

4 : position within a group Who is highest in rank in this office?

5 : high social position

6 : official grade or position the rank of major



Kids Definition of rank (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : strong and active in growth rank weeds

2 : outright entry 2 sense 1 rank dishonesty

3 : having an unpleasant smell The room was rank with smoke.


ranked; ranking

Kids Definition of rank (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : to take or have a certain position in a group He ranks near the top of the class.

2 : to arrange in a classification

3 : to arrange in lines or in a formation

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More from Merriam-Webster on rank

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rank

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rank

Spanish Central: Translation of rank

Nglish: Translation of rank for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rank for Arabic Speakers

Comments on rank

What made you want to look up rank? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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