There are 2 main definitions of rank in English:


Line breaks: rank
Pronunciation: /raŋk


1A position in the hierarchy of the armed forces: an army officer of high rank he was promoted to the rank of Captain
More example sentences
  • The school system prepares an officer for success at the tactical and operational levels and to serve in positions of a strategic nature at the rank of lieutenant colonel and above.
  • I can think of nothing finer to do for this general officer today than promote her to the rank of major general.
  • He also was a 29-year veteran of the military and held the rank of warrant officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.
1.1A position within the hierarchy of an organization or society: only two cabinet members had held ministerial rank before
More example sentences
  • He was not within the leading ranks of borough society and performed his citizen's duty only through one stint as chamberlain.
  • Under this complex system everyone was assigned a rank within society.
  • Position and rank within an organization mean very little.
position, grade, level, echelon, gradation, point on the scale, rung on the ladder;
1.2 [mass noun] High social position: persons of rank and breeding
More example sentences
  • In this context, jurists and scholars were accorded high social rank.
  • We are hoping that she will marry well, to a man with security for her and with connections and family and status and even social rank.
  • The population was sharply stratified by occupation, income, and social rank.
high standing, nobility, aristocracy, blue blood, high birth, eminence, distinction, prestige;
prominence, influence, importance, consequence, power
1.3 Statistics A number specifying position in a numerically ordered series.
More example sentences
  • The STAT scores available for each student range from 100 to 200 for each part and for the total, together with a percentile rank for each.
  • For the purpose of this study, a percentile rank of [is less than or equal to] 25 was considered below average for that group.
  • Based on results from the vocabulary and reading comprehension sections, participants were assigned a percentile rank.
1.4(In systemic grammar) the level of a linguistic unit or set of linguistic units in relation to other sets in the hierarchy.
2A single line of soldiers or police officers drawn up abreast: they were drawn up outside their barracks in long ranks
More example sentences
  • The young king looked out upon the thousands of soldiers lined in ranks, the curved edges of their swords flashing in the morning light.
  • By doctrine, to be sure, military police stand in the front ranks of first responders when service support units become incapable of defending themselves.
  • The clouds seemed to form ranks like soldiers, each line catching a thin strand of orange or pink light on its edge.
2.1A regular row or line of things or people: conifer plantations growing in serried ranks
More example sentences
  • With its serried ranks of beach brollies and ribbons of restaurants and hotels lining the seafront, it hardly seems the most promising venue for a music festival.
  • The grey, flinty slopes covered in the serried ranks of vineyards, gave way to the high pastures, the Alpine meadows, which nourished the famed milch cattle of Switzerland.
  • As soon as motorists get used to counting two cameras before putting their foot down, it will be necessary to install three in a row, then four and so on until the whole county is covered by serried ranks of cameras.
2.2 Chess Each of the eight rows of eight squares running from side to side across a chessboard. Compare with file2.
More example sentences
  • White has his rook on the seventh rank and Black's queenside pawns are very weak.
  • The first rank is always where White sets up his major pieces; the eighth rank is where Black sets up his major pieces.
  • The Knight can defend against a RP, even without it's own King, if it can stop the pawn at the sixth rank.
2.3British short for taxi rank.
More example sentences
  • He dismissed any suggestion that the central rank posed a danger to people crossing the road to get a taxi.
  • He suggested that the Council consider providing one central taxi rank in the town rather than a series of smaller ranks.
  • They said regular day-time taxi users, who include elderly people and parents with young children, have said they are afraid to queue at the rank because of the situation.
3 (ranks) The people belonging to or constituting a group or class: the ranks of Britain’s unemployed
More example sentences
  • The enormous expansion of white collar work throughout the twentieth century meant pushing the vast majority down into the ranks of the working class.
  • Ever since, the boys in blue have largely come from the ranks of the working and lower middle classes.
  • Governments rose and fell, new participants swelled the ranks of the political elite, and the middle class kept expanding.
3.1 (the ranks) (In the armed forces) those who are not commissioned officers: he was fined and reduced to the ranks
More example sentences
  • Traditionally the British army gives the post of regimental QM to an officer commissioned from the ranks.
  • For example, the army not only commissioned officers from the ranks, but in November 1942 eradicated all formal educational barriers for officer candidates.
  • The Army has been drawing officer from the ranks of our soldiers for most of our history.
4 Mathematics The value or the order of the largest non-zero determinant of a given matrix.
More example sentences
  • The rigidity of a matrix is the number of entries in a matrix which need to be changed in order to bring the rank of the matrix down to a certain value.
  • This is the well-known criterion which says that a system of linear equations has a solution if and only if the rank of the matrix of the associated homogeneous system is equal to the rank of the augmented matrix of the system.
  • We use a generalized inverse of V, however, in case it is not of full rank; if this occurs, the degrees of freedom are the rank of the matrix V.


[with object and adverbial] Back to top  
1Give (someone or something) a rank or place within a grading system: students ranked the samples in order of preference [with object and complement]: she is ranked number four in the world
More example sentences
  • Because of the increased usage of the Internet for transacting business, students were asked to rank their understanding of e-commerce.
  • Students would rank each level as if it were a separate program.
  • To qualify for the Games in 2002, competitors had to show they could deliver a score or time which would rank them within the top ten in their event.
1.1 [no object, with adverbial] Have a specified rank or place within a grading system: he now ranks third in America
More example sentences
  • The playing field is now upgraded with a drainage system and re-turfed to rank among the best in Colombo.
  • You are able to receive special interest rates that have consistently ranked among the highest in the nation.
  • But the true of measure of its success is its efficiency, ranked among the best in the world.
have a rank, be graded, be placed, be positioned, have a status, be classed, be classified, be categorized;
1.2 [with object] US Take precedence over (someone) in respect of rank; outrank: the Secretary of State ranks all the other members of the cabinet
2Arrange in a row or rows: the tents were ranked in orderly rows
line up, align, draw up, put/set in order, order, place, position, arrange, dispose, set out, array, range


Middle English (in the sense 'row of things'): from Old French ranc, of Germanic origin; related to ring1.


break rank (or ranks)

(Of soldiers or police officers) fail to remain in line.
More example sentences
  • The colonel told the soldiers to break ranks and gather around him.
  • However, they were slowly overwhelmed, and left with no other choice, the soldiers broke ranks and retreated.
  • The soldiers would then break ranks and charge, raising their shields like the petals of a blooming flower.
Fail to maintain solidarity: the government is prepared to break ranks with the Allied states
More example sentences
  • Some Republicans break ranks with the White House.
  • And many have refused to break ranks with tradition.
  • Then again, Malcolm, you probably wouldn't want to break ranks with your Fairfax colleagues.

close ranks

(Of soldiers or police officers) come closer together in a line.
More example sentences
  • I think that when the police feel under attack they tend to close ranks.
  • As the sons and daughters of professional Army officers, our impulse was to close ranks and stand where we were told to stand.
Unite in order to defend common interests: the family had always closed ranks in times of crisis
More example sentences
  • Their unprecedented public embrace confirmed the government was closing ranks against a common foe.
  • We should both call on all our supporters to prepare themselves to close ranks as Americans and unite the country behind the winner as soon as this process is complete.
  • It is not, however, clear that the community is united enough yet to effectively close ranks against coalition forces.

keep rank

(Of soldiers or police officers) remain in line.

pull rank

Take unfair advantage of one’s seniority: someone pulled rank and took my place
More example sentences
  • The coach pulls rank and throws somebody out of their seat.
  • The phone lines are soon filled, and most of the stories have a common theme: The junior senator pulling rank on one of his constituents, breaking in line, demanding to pay less, or ducking out before the bill arrives.
  • So who do you think you're kidding by pulling rank on me?

rise through (or from) the ranks

(Of a private or a non-commissioned officer) receive a commission.
More example sentences
  • During the war he rose through the ranks from an officer school cadet to a major in command of a rifle battalion.
  • He graduated from West Point in 1917 and rose through the ranks as an infantry officer.
  • He stayed with the brigade, rising through the ranks to chief fire officer, until it was disbanded when the works closed in 1982.
Advance in an organization by one’s own efforts: he rose through the ranks to become managing director
More example sentences
  • He joined the airline in the 1980s and steadily rose through the ranks before eventually taking over responsibility for the day-to-day running of the airline.
  • The corporation grew rapidly, and she rose through the ranks, becoming the deputy head of the legal department.
  • Born in Yorkshire in 1910 she began her political career in the 1940s and rose through the ranks to become Transport Minister.

Definition of rank in:

There are 2 main definitions of rank in English:


Line breaks: rank
Pronunciation: /raŋk


1(Of vegetation) growing too thickly and coarsely: clumps of rank grass
More example sentences
  • We saw the ponies, here to eat the rank vegetation.
  • Light weight and enormous toes enable them to negotiate rank vegetation by simply walking over the top.
  • We were up quite high on the southern side of the Uldale, a flank of rough rank grasses, rushes, and countless seepage and springs.
abundant, lush, luxuriant, dense, profuse, flourishing, exuberant, vigorous, productive, spreading, overgrown
informal jungly
2Having a foul or offensive smell: breathing rank air
More example sentences
  • Scars were abundant in the little group and there was a definite rank smell about them.
  • The flesh was pale grey in the thin light and the stomach had a harsh, rank smell.
  • As she got closer she could smell the sweat on him and the rank smell of horse.
offensive, unpleasant, nasty, disagreeable, revolting, sickening, obnoxious, noxious;
British informal niffy, pongy, whiffy, humming
literary noisome, mephitic
2.1 informal Very unpleasant: the tea at work is nice but the coffee’s pretty rank
3 [attributive] (Especially of something bad or deficient) complete and utter (used for emphasis): rank stupidity a rank outsider
More example sentences
  • And when taken to extremes, such as at these schools in Kirkland and Puyallup, political correctness sinks to the realm of rank stupidity.
  • Please, let's not kill the spirit of the season with rank stupidity.
  • The point about the market is that it is not only immoral - or rather amoral - it is also capable of rank stupidity.
downright, utter, outright, out-and-out, absolute, complete, sheer, stark, thorough, thoroughgoing, categorical, unequivocal, undeniable, unqualified, unmodified, unrestricted, unmitigated, unconditional, positive, simple, wholesale, all-out, perfect, consummate, patent, pure, total, entire, flat, direct, dead, final, conclusive
archaic arrant
rare right-down


Old English ranc 'proud, rebellious, sturdy', also 'fully grown', of Germanic origin. An early sense 'luxuriant' gave rise to 'too luxuriant', whence the negative connotation of modern usage.



More example sentences
  • The weeds growing rankly by the roadside showed it in blots and splashes on their big, broad leaves.
  • It is so rankly deceitful that even he would blush to be involved.
  • My reading companion is hairy, dirty, rankly fragrant, with holes in his dusty black jeans.


More example sentences
  • Padlin felt cool, wet air against his cheeks and he caught the rankness of the East River.
  • Judging by the rankness of the floor and the roughness of the shadows, Peter suspected that he was in some sort of cave.
  • I worry that she smells the rankness of my sheets.

Definition of rank in: