Date: 1300-1400
Language: Old French
Origin: renc, reng 'line, place, row'


1 noun
rank1 W3

position in army/organization

[uncountable and countable]SCPPM the position or level that someone holds in an organization, especially in the police or the army, navy etc
rank of
officers below the rank of Colonel
He held (=had) the rank of Chief Inspector.
rise to/be promoted to/attain the rank of something
During the war Harold had risen to the rank of major.
high/senior/low/junior rank
an officer of junior rank
He was sentenced to prison and stripped of his rank (=had his rank taken from him).

the ranks

a) SSOPPG the people who belong to a particular organization or group
in/within ... ranks
There were splits in the party ranks on this issue.
The Democrats now face opposition from within their own ranks.
the ranks of
Most are recruited from the ranks of people who studied Latin and Greek at university.
That summer I left school and joined the ranks of (=became one of) the unemployed.
b) PM all the members of the army, navy etc who are not officers:
He rose from the ranks to become a Field Marshal (=he became an officer after starting as an ordinary soldier).

break ranks

to behave in a way which is different from other members of a group, especially when they expect your support
break ranks with
He was the first to break ranks with Ceausescu and publicly criticise his policies.


[countable] a rank of people or things is a line or row of them
rank of
Silently, ranks of police edged closer to the crowds.
Everyone lines up in ranks, all facing the instructor.
rank after rank/rank upon rank (=a lot of things or people in a row)
On the shelves were rank after rank of liquor bottles.

pull rank (on somebody)

informal to use your authority over someone to make them do what you want, especially unfairly:
You may just have to pull rank and tell them.


[singular] the degree to which something or someone is of high quality:
While none of these pictures is of the first rank (=of the highest quality), some are of interest.

social class

[uncountable and countable]SS someone's position in society:
people of all ranks in society
He came from a family of rank (=one from a high social class).


[countable] also taxi rankTTC a place where taxis wait in a line to be hired:
I called a taxi from the rank outside.

➔ close ranks

at close1 (17)

Explore SOCIOLOGY Topic