General English


  • noun a position in a company or an organisation, especially one which shows how important someone is relative to others


  • verb to sort data into an order, usually according to size or importance

Information & Library Science

  • verb to put into order according to size or merit


  • noun an official title, indicating a serviceperson’s position in the military hierarchy (such as corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, etc.)
  • noun a parade formation, in which men stand side-by-side in a line


  • adjective unpleasant. The standard adjective (its original meaning was overbearing or excessively strong) has been adopted as an all-purpose vogue term of disapproval by teenagers in the USA and in Britain, where it probably originated in black usage.
  • adjective excellent, admirable. A term of approbation originating, it is said, in the 1960s pachuco (Hispanic street-)culture of the USA.
  • verb to insult, taunt or provoke. The terms, which occur in adolescent speech, probably originated in black street slang.


  • noun the degree of importance or superiority of somebody or something in relation to others

Origin & History of “rank”

English has two words rank. The one meaning ‘row, line’ (16th c.), and hence ‘position of seniority’, was borrowed from Old French ranc (source also of English range), which goes back via Frankish *hring to a prehistoric Germanic *khrengaz ‘circle, ring’ (ancestor of English ring). Rank ‘absolute, downright’ (OE), as in ‘rank bad manners’, has had an eventful semantic history. It originally meant ‘haughty’ and ‘full-grown’, and came from a prehistoric Germanic *rangkaz, which also produced Old Norse rakkr ‘erect’. ‘Full-grown’ evolved via ‘growing vigorously, luxuriant’ (which still survives) into ‘gross, disgusting’, on which the present-day intensive usage is based.