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Rank vs. Smelly: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Updated on September 25, 2023
"Rank" can refer to a strong, offensive odor or a position in a hierarchy, while "smelly" generally denotes having a noticeable and usually unpleasant odor. They are related in describing odors, but "rank" has varied meanings.

Key Differences

"Rank" and "smelly" are both adjectives describing something with an unpleasant odor. However, "rank" possesses multiple meanings and can denote the relative position or standing in a systematic order or hierarchy. It can reflect status or classification within a structured group, or order. When used to describe smell, "rank" implies a stronger, more pungent odor, often more offensive, indicative of corruption or decay. The use of "rank" to convey malodor is typically more formal and less common than its use to indicate positioning or status within a structure or system.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 25, 2023
"Smelly," on the other hand, is used in everyday language specifically to describe things that emit an unpleasant or foul odor. It is a more common and colloquial term, compared to when "rank" is used to describe a smell. It does not carry the additional meanings that "rank" does, and its application is straightforward, implying the presence of a bad smell, without further nuances related to hierarchy or arrangement. "Smelly" is often used to describe things like garbage, unwashed clothes, or spoiled food, indicating the undesirable nature of the smell.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 25, 2023
The word "rank," owing to its multiple meanings, can be found in various contexts, ranging from military to academic. In military contexts, "rank" refers to the level of authority and responsibility held, while in academic environments, it may denote the relative position of an institution or individual in comparison to others. In these instances, "rank" does not refer to any form of smell but is a determinant of positioning or standing, forming the backbone of structured systems.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 25, 2023
Conversely, "smelly" remains a descriptor for unpleasant odors, rendering it less versatile than "rank." It is universally understood to depict objects, places, or entities emitting disagreeable scents, with its application largely remaining within the realm of olfactory experiences. Its specificity and straightforwardness make "smelly" a widely recognized term for anything odorous and unpleasant.
Sara Rehman
Sep 25, 2023
In essence, while both "rank" and "smelly" can describe unpleasant odors, "rank" has diverse meanings and applications, and "smelly" is a straightforward descriptor for things that have a bad smell. The versatility of "rank" in describing hierarchical positions or statuses makes it a multifaceted term, while "smelly" remains anchored in olfactory unpleasantness.
Harlon Moss
Sep 25, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Primary Meaning

Strong, offensive odor or a position in a hierarchy.
Having a noticeable and usually unpleasant odor.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 25, 2023

Usage

Formal and versatile.
Informal and specific.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 25, 2023

Context

Military, academic, and descriptive of odors.
Primarily descriptive of odors.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 25, 2023

Implied Intensity

Can imply a stronger, more offensive odor.
Implies the presence of a bad smell.
Sara Rehman
Sep 25, 2023

Additional Meanings

Yes, relating to hierarchical positioning.
No, solely used to describe unpleasant odors.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 25, 2023
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Rank and Smelly Definitions

Rank

Having a strong, offensive smell.
The rank odor of the garbage was unbearable.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 25, 2023

Smelly

Emitting a strong or unpleasant odor.
The smelly socks were tossed into the laundry basket.
Harlon Moss
Sep 25, 2023

Rank

A line or row of people or things.
The soldiers stood in rank awaiting the command.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 25, 2023

Smelly

Characterized by a disagreeable odor.
The smelly shoes were left outside the door.
Janet White
Sep 25, 2023

Rank

A relative position in a society.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Smelly

Detectable as having an unpleasant odor.
The smelly garbage needs to be taken out immediately.
Janet White
Sep 25, 2023

Rank

An official position or grade
The rank of sergeant.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Smelly

Having a noticeable and offensive smell.
Avoid the smelly trash cans by the street.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 25, 2023

Rank

A relative position or degree of value in a graded group.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Smelly

Indicative of a foul or unpleasant scent.
We need to clean the smelly refrigerator.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 25, 2023

Rank

High or eminent station or position
Persons of rank.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Smelly

Having a noticeable, usually unpleasant or offensive odor.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

A row, line, series, or range.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Smelly

Having a bad smell.
She was hesitant to remove her shoes, as her socks were rather smelly.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

A line of soldiers, vehicles, or equipment standing side by side in close order.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Smelly

(figuratively) Having a quality that arouses suspicion.
The detective read the documents and thought, "Something sure is smelly about this case."
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Ranks The armed forces.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Smelly

Having signs that suggest a design problem; having a code smell.
That smelly code needs to be refactored.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Ranks Personnel, especially enlisted military personnel.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Smelly

A Short Magazine Lee Enfield rifle or one of its derivatives.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Ranks A body of people classed together; numbers
Joined the ranks of the unemployed.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Smelly

Offensively malodorous;
A putrid smell
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

(Games) Any of the rows of squares running crosswise to the files on a playing board in chess or checkers.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

To place in a row or rows.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

To give a particular order or position to; classify.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

To outrank or take precedence over.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

To hold a particular rank
Ranked first in the class.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

To form or stand in a row or rows.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

To complain.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

To engage in carping criticism. Often used with on
Stop ranking on me all the time.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Growing profusely or with excessive vigor
Rank vegetation.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Yielding a profuse, often excessive crop; highly fertile
Rank earth.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Strong and offensive in odor or flavor
Rank gym clothes.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Absolute; complete
A rank amateur.
Rank treachery.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Strong of its kind or in character; unmitigated; virulent; thorough; utter (used of negative things).
Rank treason
Rank nonsense
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Strong in growth; growing with vigour or rapidity, hence, coarse or gross.
Rank grass
Rank weeds
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Suffering from overgrowth or hypertrophy; plethoric.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Causing strong growth; producing luxuriantly; rich and fertile.
Rank land
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Strong to the senses; offensive; noisome.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Having a very strong and bad taste or odor.
Your gym clothes are rank, bro – when'd you last wash 'em?
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Complete, used as an intensifier (usually negative, referring to incompetence).
I am a rank amateur as a wordsmith.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

(informal) Gross, disgusting.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

(obsolete) Strong; powerful; capable of acting or being used with great effect; energetic; vigorous; headstrong.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

(obsolete) lustful; lascivious
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

(obsolete) Quickly, eagerly, impetuously.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

A row of people or things organized in a grid pattern, often soldiers.
The front rank kneeled to reload while the second rank fired over their heads.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

(chess) One of the eight horizontal lines of squares on a chessboard (i.e., those identified by a number).
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

(music) In a pipe organ, a set of pipes of a certain quality for which each pipe corresponds to one key or pedal.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

One's position in a list sorted by a shared property such as physical location, population, or quality.
Based on your test scores, you have a rank of 23.
The fancy hotel was of the first rank.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

The level of one's position in a class-based society.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

(typically in the plural) A category of people, such as those who share an occupation or belong to an organisation.
A membership drawn from the ranks of wealthy European businessmen
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

A hierarchical level in an organization such as the military.
Private First Class (PFC) is the second-lowest rank in the Marines.
He rose up through the ranks of the company, from mailroom clerk to CEO.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

(taxonomy) A level in a scientific taxonomy system.
Phylum is the taxonomic rank below kingdom and above class.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

(mathematics) The dimensionality of an array (computing) or tensor.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

(linear algebra) The maximal number of linearly independent columns (or rows) of a matrix.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

(algebra) The maximum quantity of D-linearly independent elements of a module (over an integral domain D).
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

(mathematics) The size of any basis of a given matroid.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

To place abreast, or in a line.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

To have a ranking.
Their defense ranked third in the league.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

To assign a suitable place in a class or order; to classify.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

(US) To take rank of; to outrank.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Luxuriant in growth; of vigorous growth; exuberant; grown to immoderate height; as, rank grass; rank weeds.
And, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Raised to a high degree; violent; extreme; gross; utter; as, rank heresy.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Causing vigorous growth; producing luxuriantly; very rich and fertile; as, rank land.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Strong-scented; rancid; musty; as, oil of a rank smell; rank-smelling rue.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Strong to the taste.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Inflamed with venereal appetite.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Rankly; stoutly; violently.
That rides so rank and bends his lance so fell.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

A row or line; a range; an order; a tier; as, a rank of osiers.
Many a mountain nighRising in lofty ranks, and loftier still.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

A line of soldiers ranged side by side; - opposed to file. See 1st File, 1 (a).
Fierce, fiery warriors fought upon the clouds,In ranks and squadrons and right form of war.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Grade of official standing, as in the army, navy, or nobility; as, the rank of general; the rank of admiral.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

An aggregate of individuals classed together; a permanent social class; an order; a division; as, ranks and orders of men; the highest and the lowest ranks of men, or of other intelligent beings.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Degree of dignity, eminence, or excellence; position in civil or social life; station; degree; grade; as, a writer of the first rank; a lawyer of high rank.
These all are virtues of a meaner rank.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Elevated grade or standing; high degree; high social position; distinction; eminence; as, a man of rank.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

To place abreast, or in a line.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

To range in a particular class, order, or division; to class; also, to dispose methodically; to place in suitable classes or order; to classify.
Ranking all things under general and special heads.
Poets were ranked in the class of philosophers.
Heresy is ranked with idolatry and witchcraft.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

To take rank of; to outrank.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

To be ranged; to be set or disposed, as in a particular degree, class, order, or division.
Let that one article rank with the rest.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

To have a certain grade or degree of elevation in the orders of civil or military life; to have a certain degree of esteem or consideration; as, he ranks with the first class of poets; he ranks high in public estimation.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

A row or line of people (especially soldiers or police) standing abreast of one another;
The entrance was guarded by ranks of policemen
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Relative status;
His salary was determined by his rank and seniority
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

The ordinary members of an organization (such as the enlisted soldiers of an army);
The strike was supported by the union rank and file
He rose from the ranks to become a colonel
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Position in a social hierarchy;
The British are more aware of social status than Americans are
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

The body of members of an organization or group;
They polled their membership
They found dissension in their own ranks
He joined the ranks of the unemployed
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Take or have a position relative to others;
This painting ranks among the best in the Western World
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Assign a rank or rating to;
How would you rank these students?
The restaurant is rated highly in the food guide
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Take precedence or surpass others in rank
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Very fertile; producing profuse growth;
Rank earth
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Very offensive in smell or taste;
A rank cigar
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible;
A crying shame
An egregious lie
Flagrant violation of human rights
A glaring error
Gross ineptitude
Gross injustice
Rank treachery
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Complete and without restriction or qualification; sometimes used informally as intensifiers;
Absolute freedom
An absolute dimwit
A downright lie
Out-and-out mayhem
An out-and-out lie
A rank outsider
Many right-down vices
Got the job through sheer persistence
Sheer stupidity
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

Growing profusely;
Rank jungle vegetation
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 02, 2023

Rank

A position in a hierarchy or scale.
He achieved the rank of captain in the military.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 25, 2023

Rank

Classifying according to various criteria.
The university holds a high rank globally.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 25, 2023

Rank

Complete; absolute (used for emphasis).
It was rank stupidity to challenge the decision.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 25, 2023

FAQs

Can rank refer to something other than smell?

Yes, rank has multiple meanings including a position in a hierarchy.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 25, 2023

Is smelly always negative?

Generally, smelly denotes a negative, unpleasant odor.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 25, 2023

Can something be smelly but not rank?

Yes, as rank often implies a stronger, more offensive odor.
Janet White
Sep 25, 2023

Can rank also mean absolute or complete?

Yes, rank can be used for emphasis to mean complete or absolute, e.g., rank stupidity.
Janet White
Sep 25, 2023

Is rank more formal than smelly when describing odor?

Yes, rank is generally more formal and less common than smelly in this context.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 25, 2023

Can smelly describe good smells?

Typically, smelly is used to describe unpleasant odors.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 25, 2023

Does rank always imply a bad smell?

When used to describe odor, rank typically implies a strong, offensive smell.
Harlon Moss
Sep 25, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.

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