Rancour - ranker

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Rancour and ranker form one of the sets of homophones listed by the then Poet Laureate Robert Bridges.
(For more, see Bridges homophones). AWE has a category listing our articles on each of these..

  • Rancour means "Deep-rooted and bitter ill feeling; resentment or animosity, esp. of long standing; an instance of this" (OED 2008).
  • Ranker is rarely used these days.
    • In its original sense, more common in Bridges' day than now, it meant an ordinary soldier, 'one who serves in the ranks'; what is now called an 'other rank', or, less formally, a squaddie (an 'enlisted rank' in the USA).
      • Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem called Gentlemen rankers, about men 'of the officer class' who have disgraced their status and enlisted in the ranks. Its chorus has been incorporated in the Whiffenpoof Song.
    • It now more commonly means 'one who puts into rank order'.
      • This includes such websites (and algorithms) as ranker.com and similar programmes designed to help search engines, and above all to optimize the positioning of one's own (commercial) website or address in the results delivered by a website in response to a search.

  • There is a fairly distant possibility that ranker may be the comparative of the adjective (and adverb) rank, which is mostly used nowadays to mean 'foul-smelling', or 'overgrown'. It sometimes has connotations of rampant sexuality or obscenity.