Etymology
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rank (n.)

early 14c., "row, line, or series;" c. 1400, a row of an army, from Old French renc, ranc "row, line" (Modern French rang), from Frankish *hring or some other Germanic source (compare Old High German hring "circle, ring"), from Proto-Germanic *hringaz "circle, ring, something curved" (from nasalized form of PIE root *sker- (2) "to turn, bend").

Meaning "a social division, class of persons" is from early 15c. Meaning "high status or position in society" is from early 15c. Meaning "a relative position" is from c. 1600. Sense of "one of the rows of squares across a chess board" is by 1570s. Military ranks "the body of private soldiers" is attested by 1809.

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rank (adj.)

Old English ranc "proud, overbearing, haughty, showy," senses now obsolete, from Proto-Germanic *rankaz (source also of Danish rank "right, upright," German rank "slender," Old Norse rakkr "straight, erect"), which is of uncertain origin, possibly related to Old Norse and Old English rinc "man, warrior." Related: Rankly; rankness.

In reference to plant growth, "vigorous, luxuriant, abundant, copious" (also figurative) it is recorded from c. 1300. The sense also evolved in Middle English to "large and coarse" (c. 1300), then to "corrupt, loathsome, foul" (mid-14c.), perhaps via the notion of "excessive and unpleasant," perhaps also influenced in this by French rance "rancid." Specifically as "having an offensive, strong smell" by 1520s. In Middle English also "brave, stout-hearted; splendid, admirable." In 17c. it also could mean "lewd, lustful."

The development of the word in Eng. is, however, far from clear, as the OE. uses are not quite the primitive ones. In ME. also it chiefly occurs in alliterative verse, app. more for convenience than to express definite meanings. In the later language the chief difficulty is to decide which of the more original senses are represented in the transferred uses. [OED]

Much used 16c. as a pejorative intensive (as in rank folly). This is possibly the source of the verb meanings "to reveal another's guilt" (1929, underworld slang) and that of "to harass, insult, abuse," 1934, African-American vernacular, though this also may be so called from the role of the activity in establishing social hierarchy (and thus from rank (n.)).

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rank (v.)

1570s, "arrange in lines;" 1590s, "put in order, classify; assign a rank to," also "have a certain place in a hierarchy," from rank (n.). The meaning "outrank, take precedence over" is by 1841. Related: Ranked; ranking. An earlier verb ranken (mid-13c.) "to fester, suppurate" is from rank (adj.).

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rank and file (n.)

1590s, in reference to the horizontal and vertical lines of soldiers marching in formation, from rank (n.) in the military sense of "number of soldiers drawn up in a line abreast" (1570s) + file (n.1). Thence generalized to "common soldiers" (1796) and "common people, general body" of any group (1860).

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outrank (v.)

"be superior in rank to, excel in precedence," 1829, from out- + rank (n.). Related: Outranked; outranking.

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harangue (n.)

"a public address; a formal, vehement, or passionate address;" also "any formal or pompous speech; a declamation; a tirade," mid-15c., arang, Scottish (in English from c. 1600), from French harangue "a public address" (14c.), from Old Italian aringo "public square, platform; pulpit; arena," from a Germanic source such as Old High German hring "circle" (see ring (n.1)) on the notion of "circular gathering," with an -a- inserted to ease Romanic pronunciation of Germanic hr- (compare hamper (n.1)).

But Watkins and Barnhart suggest a Germanic compound, *harihring "circular gathering, assembly," literally "host-ring, army-ring," with first element *hari- "war-band, host" (see harry (v.)). From the same Germanic "ring" root via Romanic come rank (n.), range (v.), arrange.

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*sker- (2)

also *ker-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to turn, bend."

It forms all or part of: arrange; circa; circadian; circle; circuit; circum-; circumcision; circumflex; circumnavigate; circumscribe; circumspect; circumstance; circus; cirque; corona; crepe; crest; crinoline; crisp; crown;  curb; curvature; curve; derange;  flounce (n.) "deep ruffle on the skirt of a dress;" krone; ring (n.1) "circular band;" ranch; range; ranger; rank (n.) "row, line series;" research; recherche; ridge; rink; rucksack; search; shrink.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin curvus "bent, curved," crispus "curly;" Old Church Slavonic kragu "circle;" perhaps Greek kirkos "ring," koronos "curved;" Old English hring "ring, small circlet."

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*reg- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "move in a straight line," with derivatives meaning "to direct in a straight line," thus "to lead, rule."

It forms all or part of: abrogate; address; adroit; Alaric; alert; anorectic; anorexia; arrogant; arrogate; bishopric; correct; corvee; derecho; derogate; derogatory; Dietrich; direct; dress; eldritch; erect; ergo; Eric; Frederick; Henry; incorrigible; interregnum; interrogate; maharajah; Maratha; prerogative; prorogue; rack (n.1) "frame with bars;" rail (n.1) "horizontal bar passing from one post or support to another;" Raj; rajah; rake (n.1) "toothed tool for drawing or scraping things together;" rake (n.2) "debauchee; idle, dissolute person;" rakish; rank (adj.) "corrupt, loathsome, foul;" real (n.) "small Spanish silver coin;" realm; reck; reckless; reckon; rectangle; rectify; rectilinear; rectitude; recto; recto-; rector; rectum; regal; regent; regicide; regime; regimen; regiment; region; regular; regulate; Regulus; Reich; reign; resurgent; rex; rich; right; Risorgimento; rogation; royal; rule; sord; source; subrogate; subrogation; surge; surrogate; viceroy.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by:

Sanskrit raj- "a king, a leader," rjyati "he stretches himself," riag "torture" (by racking); Avestan razeyeiti "directs," raštva- "directed, arranged, straight;" Persian rahst "right, correct;" Latin regere "to rule, direct, lead, govern," rex (genitive regis) "king," rectus "right, correct;" Greek oregein "to reach, extend;" Old Irish ri, Gaelic righ "a king," Gaulish -rix "a king" (in personal names, such as Vircingetorix), Old Irish rigim "to stretch out;" Gothic reiks "a leader," raihts "straight, right;" Lithuanian raižytis "to stretch oneself;" Old English rice "kingdom," -ric "king," rice "rich, powerful," riht "correct;" Gothic raihts, Old High German recht, Old Swedish reht, Old Norse rettr "correct."

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puisne (adj.)

"junior, younger; inferior in rank," c. 1300 in Anglo-Latin, from Old French puisné "born later, younger, youngest" (see puny). As a noun from 1590s, "a junior, an inferior," especially "a judge of inferior rank."

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ladyship (n.)
"rank or dignity of a lady," early 13c.; see lady + -ship.
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