Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to rank: military rank, RANK ligand, Page rank
1. Literally, to step out of a military formation. Don't break ranks, or the drill sergeant will lose it.
2. By extension, to behave in a way that is different from or opposes the other members of a group that one is a part of. You're a part of management now—if you disagree with their initiatives, then you need to break ranks.
1. Literally, to move closer to the other troops while in a military formation. As soon as the captain called for us to close ranks, we all moved closer together.
2. By extension, to show support for someone or something, especially as a response to criticism. This phrase is typically applied to a group of people. Our family was sure to close ranks behind mom as she suffered public backlash during her campaign for mayor.
come up through the ranks
To reach a prominent position after serving in subordinate ones. Those employees trust Stu because they know that he came up through the ranks and once held the same entry-level position that they have now.
join the ranks (of something)
To become a part or member of a large group or organization. Hey, I heard you'll be joining the ranks at our office next month. Congratulations! Each year, more and more people join the ranks of those whose livelihoods were destroyed by the economic recession.
pull rank (on one)
To use one's higher position of authority to dictate what someone does or to gain an advantage for oneself. Even though I'm the boss, I try not to pull rank and let everyone have equal say in how things are done. Whenever new assignments comes up, Tom always pulls rank on us and picks the best one for himself.
rank and file
1. adjective Everyday; ordinary; not in a position of authority or power. (Hyphenated before a noun.) The scandal appears to go beyond rank-and-file officers all the way to the heads of the police force. Everyone assumes I make a lot of money because I work in the film industry, but the pay for a rank-and-file crew member is actually pretty low.
2. noun Ordinary members who are not in a position of leadership, authority, or power. The deal was rejected by a large majority of the rank and file within the union.
to move closer together in a military formation. The soldiers closed ranks and marched on the enemy in tight formation.
(behind someone or something) to support someone or something; to back someone or something. We will close ranks behind the party's nominee. Let's close ranks behind her and give her the support she needs.
close ranks (with someone)
to join with someone in a cause, or agreement. We can fight this menace only if we close ranks. Let's all close ranks with Ann and adopt her suggestions.
come up through the ranks
Fig. to rise to a position of leadership by working up through the sequence of lower positions. He came up through the ranks to become a corporate executive. The general came up through the ranks. There is no other way to become a general.
pull rank (on someone)
Fig. to assert one's rank, authority, or position over someone when making a request or giving an order. Don't pull rank on me! I don't have to do what you say! When she couldn't get her way politely, she pulled rank and really got some action.
rank above someone
to outrank someone; to rank higher than someone. I think that I rank above you, so I will sit by the window. The boss ranks above everyone and demands that everyone recognize the fact.
rank among something
to be included in a particular group. In my opinion, Kelly ranks among the very best. Tom ranks among the most widely known of the contemporary writers.
rank and file
1. Lit. regular soldiers, not the officers. I think there is low morale among the rank and file, sir. The rank and file usually do exactly as they are told.
2. Fig. the ordinary members of a group, not the leaders. The rank and file will vote on the proposed contract tomorrow. The last contract was turned down by the rank and file last year.
rank as something
to have a particular rank; to serve in a particular rank. She ranks as a fine pianist in my book. Don ranks as the top economist of the day.
rank on someone
Sl. to attack someone verbally; to gossip about someone. Please stop ranking on my family! Tom keeps ranking on Jennifer, and she is really mad about it.
rank someone among something
to judge someone to be essentially equal to a specific group of people. I don't rank Kelly among the best drivers in the world. Our committee ranked Fred among the best of the current applicants.
rank someone or something as something
to assign a particular rank to someone or something. I have to rank Sally as number one. She's the best. Mary ranked the chocolate as the best she had ever eaten.
rank someone (out)
1. Sl. to annoy someone. He really ranks me out. What a pest!
2. Sl. to chastise someone. She ranked him out for being a coward. I ranked out the whole gang, but good!
rank someone with someone
to judge someone to be equal with someone. Would you rank Tom with Donna? Fred ranked himself with Tom when it came to diving.
rank with someone or something
to be equal to someone or something. Do you think Sarah ranks with Albert? No one ranks with Albert. The food at that restaurant ranks with that of the best places in New York.
rise from the ranks
Fig. to achieve position or office, having worked up from the masses. He rose from the ranks to become president of the company. Most of the officers of the company have risen from the ranks.
Fall out of line or into disorder; also, fail to conform, deviate. For example, The recruits were warned that they must not break ranks, or Harry was told to adhere to the party platform and not break ranks. This idiom uses rank in the sense of "soldiers drawn up in line," and the term originally referred to their falling into disarray. The figurative usage dates from the mid-1800s.
Unite, work together, as in The members decided to close ranks and confront the president. This expression, dating from the late 1700s, comes from the military, where it denotes bringing troops into close order so there are no gaps in the fighting line. (A slightly earlier form was close lines.) It has been used figuratively since the mid-1800s.
Use one's higher status to compel obedience or obtain privileges, as in She hated pulling rank in the office, but sometimes it was necessary. This term comes from the military. [c. 1920]
rank and file
Followers, the general membership, as in This new senator really appeals to the rank and file in the labor unions. This expression comes from the military, where a rank denotes soldiers standing side by side in a row, and file refers to soldiers standing behind one another. The first recorded figurative use of this term was in 1860.
rise through the ranks
Also, rise from the ranks; come up through the ranks. Work one's way to the top, as in He's risen through the ranks, starting as a copyboy and ending up as senior editor. Originally this term was used for an officer who had worked his way up from the rank of private, a rare feat. It was being applied to nonmilitary advances by the mid-1800s. Also see come up, def. 4.
If someone in authority pulls rank, they use their power or position to make people do what they want, in a way that is not fair. He was a chief superintendent and just occasionally he pulled rank. The Federal Government threatened to pull rank and override the states with its own legislation. Note: This expression is often used to show disapproval.
rank and file
The rank and file of an organization are its ordinary members rather than its leaders. He gave the sort of speeches the rank and file wanted to hear. Note: Rank-and-file is often used before nouns. The take-home pay of a rank-and-file orchestra member at the time was only 2.7 million lire per month.
COMMON If someone breaks ranks or breaks rank, they do not follow the instructions or opinions of their group or organization, and instead, say or do something that shows a different opinion. Note: A rank of soldiers is a line of them standing side by side. Would you break ranks with your party and vote against the president's tax bill? A former cabinet minister has broken ranks to protest at the Government's plans to cut the education budget. Note: When soldiers break ranks, they stop standing in a line and move apart.
COMMON If the members of a group close ranks, they say things to show that they support each other totally when someone who is not in their group criticizes one of their members. Note: A rank of soldiers is a line of them standing side by side. They would more likely close ranks and support their president rather than abandon him in an election year. Cabinet ministers have closed ranks behind the Prime Minister, saying there was no question of his stepping down. Note: When soldiers close ranks, they stand closer together so that it is hard for anyone to break through the line.
break rank (or ranks)1 (of soldiers or police officers) fail to remain in line. 2 fail to maintain solidarity.
close ranks1 (of soldiers or police officers) come closer together in a line. 2 unite in order to defend common interests.
2 1998 Country Life The farming community stands to lose those privileges unless it closes ranks against the few who let the side down.
pull ranktake unfair advantage of your seniority or privileged position.
rank and filethe ordinary members of an organization as opposed to its leaders.
The notion behind the expression is of the ‘ranks’ and ‘files’ into which privates and non-commissioned officers form on parade.
rise through (or from) the ranks1 (of a private or a non-commissioned officer) receive a commission. 2 advance from a lowly position in an organization by your own efforts.
close ˈranks(of the members of a profession, group, etc.) co-operate closely to protect and defend each other: Although the family quarrelled a good deal among themselves, they quickly closed ranks against any outsider who criticized one of them.
pull ˈrank (on somebody)make unfair use of your senior position, authority, etc. in an organization, etc: I was really looking forward to going to Rome on business, but then my manager pulled rank on me and said she was going instead.
The position, especially a high one, that somebody has in the army, etc. is called a rank.
(the) ˌrank and ˈfile(the) ordinary members of a group or an organization: I can see that you are happy with the plan but what will the rank and file think? ♢ The rank-and-file members don’t elect the leader. OPPOSITE: (the) top brass
In the military, the rank and file are ordinary soldiers who are not officers.
break ˈranks(of the members of a group) refuse to support a group or an organization of which they are members: Large numbers of MPs felt compelled to break ranks over the issue.
This idiom refers to soldiers, police etc. failing to remain in line.
come up/rise through the ˈranksafter starting your career at the bottom or low down in an organization, finally reach a high position in it: The new managing director has come up through the ranks, which is quite unusual these days.
In the military, the ranks refers to the position of ordinary soldiers rather than officers. Some may become officers if they have the right qualities.
tv. to give someone a hard time; to hassle someone. (Possible from pull rank = use rank to dominate someone.) Stop ranking me!
rank and file
n. the common members of something. What will the rank and file think of the proposal?
rank on someone
in. to attack someone verbally; to gossip about someone. (see also rank.) Please stop ranking on my family!
rank someone (out)
tv. to annoy or chastise someone. (see also rank.) He really ranks me out. What a pest!
See rank someone out