To rank something is to assign it a place in a hierarchy, like to maybe be third best in the world at operating a yo yo. The rank and file are the members of an organization not including the leaders. A rank is a line of, for instance, soldiers, all standing shoulder to shoulder facing the same direction. That, btw, is called standing line abreast. A rank smell is the odour of rot and might be termed rancid
To pull rank is to use my rank in the hierarchy as the right to demand something of you. I have always found that if I need to pull rank to get someone to do something then it is me that has failed to lead. If my total authority is a rank, my power is pretty shaky. My rank ought to be evident in the way I conduct myself not in the insignia on my uniform.
We like to rank things and people most of all. We? Us upright bipeds called humans. We seem to have a love affair with rank. If you want to sell something you will probably say it is the best or at least use words like great or excellent or at least very good. Another angle we like to use is the descriptor ‘new’. It seems that new is better than that which is five minutes older. We even rank toilet paper as to which is the softest
When we include the rank of things in our thinking, it can feel sort of safer, more predictable, easier to understand. Sometimes it is quite handy. For instance when explaining a new thing to someone we could say it is bigger than a breadbox (if you even know what that is) and smaller than a car. That can be helpful. Though, if I don’t know what a breadbox is, what use is rank then? Rank is relative to something we know
Rank is not natural. There is no order of rank until we put it there. Trees do not grow in ranks unless we plant them in a row and even then the line of trees is not perfectly straight. The stripes on any particular zebra are not of a higher rank than those on another. Are they? Rank is a convenience to help us sort things in support of structures that we deem to be helpful in some way. Not all that glamorous after all