Etymology
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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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society (n.)

1530s, "companionship, friendly association with others," from Old French societe "company" (12c., Modern French société), from Latin societatem (nominative societas) "fellowship, association, alliance, union, community," from socius "companion, ally," from PIE *sokw-yo-, suffixed form of root *sekw- (1) "to follow."

Meaning "group, club" is from 1540s, originally of associations of persons for some specific purpose. Meaning "people bound by neighborhood and intercourse aware of living together in an ordered community" is from 1630s. Sense of "the more cultivated part of any community" first recorded 1823, hence "fashionable people and their doings." The Society Islands were named 1769 by Cook on his third Pacific voyage in honor of the Royal Society, which financed his travels across the world to observe the transit of Venus.

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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 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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rehabilitation (n.)

1530s, "act of reinstating in a former rank or standing," from French réhabilitation and directly from Medieval Latin rehabilitationem (nominative rehabilitatio) "restoration," noun of action from past-participle stem of rehabilitare, from re- "again" (see re-) + habitare "make fit," from Latin habilis "easily managed, fit" (see able). Meaning "action of restoring anything to a previous condition" is by 1858. Specifically of criminals, addicts, etc., retrained for society from 1940.

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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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societal (adj.)

1873, from society (adj.) + -al (1). Related: Societally. Earlier adjective was societarian (1822) "of or pertaining to society."

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Black Hand (n.)

Italian immigrant secret society in U.S., 1904; earlier a Spanish anarchist society, both from the warning mark they displayed to potential victims.

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queenhood (n.)

"state or rank of being a queen," 1850, from queen + -hood. Queendom is from c. 1600 as "country ruled by a queen," 1650s as "state or rank of being a queen."

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