1. The quality of being rank, of having a repulsive or pungent odor.
    • 1578, Raphael Holinshed et al., Holinshed's Chronicles, Volume I, Book 3, Chapter 1 “Of cattell kept for profit,” p. 222,
      […] the bowels of the beast are commonlie cast awaie because of their ranknesse […]
    • 1933, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, South Moon Under, Chapter 34,
      A match scratched and the sweet rankness of his corn-cob pipe drifted through the rooms.
  2. Exuberant or uncontrolled growth.
    • 1706, John Dryden, “To my Dear Friend Mr. Congreve, On His Comedy, call’d, The Double-Dealer” in The Double Dealer by William Congreve, London: Jacob Tonson,
      Like Janus he the stubborn Soil manur’d,
      With Rules of Husbandry the Rankness cur’d:
      Tam’d us to Manners, when the Stage was rude;
      And boistrous English Wit, with Art indu’d.
    • 1847, Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, Chapter 18,
      […] a wilderness of weeds, to be sure, whose rankness far over-topped their neglected growth; yet, notwithstanding, evidence of a wealthy soil, that might yield luxuriant crops under other and favourable circumstances.
    • 1970, Barry Unsworth, The Hide, New York: Norton, 1997, p. 139,
      […] briar and bramble shoots lay athwart one’s path with thorns like arrowheads often concealed in tangles of grass and willowherb and cow parsley, while underlying this rankness, like a reminder of a more elegant epoch, one was aware at times of Howard’s cultivation, rose and magnolia and peony continued to flower […]
  3. (obsolete) Exuberance, excessiveness.
    • circa 1612 William Shakespeare and John Fletcher (playwright), Henry VIII (play), Act IV, Scene 1,
      First Gentleman. God save you, sir! where have you been broiling?
      Third Gentleman. Among the crowd i’ the Abbey; where a finger
      Could not be wedged in more: I am stifled
      With the mere rankness of their joy.
  4. (obsolete) Insolence.
    • circa 1599 William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act I, Scene 1,
      I will physic your rankness […]
  • Italian: rancidezza

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