Rank - Encyclopedia


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RANK (O.Fr. rant or rent, mod. rang, generally connected with the O.E. and O.H.G. hring, a ring), a row or line, as of cabs or carriages, but especially of soldiers drawn up abreast in a line; in "rank and file" the "rank" is the horizontal line of soldiers, the "file" the vertical. From the sense of orderly arrangement "rank" is applied to grades or classes in a social or other organization, and particularly to a high grade, as in such expressions as a "person of rank." This word must be distinguished from the adjective "rank," overluxuriant, coarse, strong, generally connected with the Low Ger. rank, thin, tall (cf. Du. rank, upright). The O.E. rinc, warrior, i.e. full-grown man, may be also connected with the word; Skeat refers also to "rack," to pull out straight.

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