Green’s Dictionary of Slang

rank v.2

also rank on, rank out
[rank adj.1 (2) + SE rank, to assign a rank, in this case low and thus to put someone ‘in their place’]

1. (US Und.) to fail, esp. in the commission of a crime.

[US] ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V 460: Ranked, Said of an attempted burglary which has miscarried.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Ranked, caught in the act of committing a crime.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

2. (US) to disdain, to disparage.

[US]H. Sebastian ‘Negro Sl. in Lincoln University’ in AS IX:4 288: joe rank Name applied to one who is quick to talk about another’s weaknesses.
[US]L. Shelly Hepcats Jive Talk Dict. n.p.: rank: to criticize.
[US]W. Bernstein ‘The Cherubs Are Rumbling’ in Short Gang Delinquency and Delinquent Subcultures (1968) 32: ‘He started to rank me,’ Benny said, meaning that the Stomper had been taunting him.
[US] in Current Sl. (1967) I:4 5/1: Ranked out, adj. Scolded.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn (1966) 32: [She] watched Harry as he struggled with the stick and ranked him as he covered his nose and mouth trying to suppress a cough.
[US]S. King Different Seasons (1995) 457: I’ll kill you for that. Nobody ranks my mother.
[US]G. Smitherman Black Talk.
[US]N. Green Angel of Montague Street (2004) 14: They’d tell Newfie jokes [...] ranking on people from Newfoundland because they talk funny.

3. to lower; to lose status or job seniority.

[US]Cab Calloway New Hepsters Dict. in Calloway (1976) 259: rank (v.): to lower.
[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 212: rank, v. – to lose, or rank, one’s job in prison.
[US]B. Jackson Killing Time 176: There was a lot of heat on one trusty fussing with another. Some of them even got ranked. [demoted from trusty status back to regular inmate status]. Some of them asked to be ranked.

4. (orig. US black) to cause problems for another person’s plans or actions.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 174/1: Rank, v. 1. To frustrate or ruin the execution of a crime by blunder or intention.
[US]C. Himes Blind Man with a Pistol (1971) 181: Don’t rank it, man, don’t rank it!
[US]N.Y. Amsterdam News 29 Sept. 34/3: The Black and Hispanic kids all related to the film and just fell out laughing, because it was part of their experience. They knew what ‘ranking’ and ‘snapping’ on someone meant. The white professors, just like many film programmers, had a cultural block to the film.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 139: I’ma rank the nigger, take his touff from ’im. [...] There are a number of expressions [...] that characterize one person’s attempt to interrupt, impede, or totally sabotage another person’s action [...] to mess up/rank someone’s action.

5. to insult, often by ritual insults directed at the other person’s mother; as n., an insult.

[US]H. Salisbury Shook-Up Generation (1961) 171: RANK To insult (Usually profanity concerning a boy’s mother).
[US]C. Cooper Jr Scene (1996) 161: Shut up, you crippled bastard! You tryin to rank Rudy, that’s what you tryin to do!
[US]V.E. Smith Jones Men 165: If you gon rank me, I’ll go somewhere else and spend my money.
[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 157: rank on to put down.
[US]College Sl. Research Project (Cal. State Poly. Uni., Pomona) [Internet] Rank [...] 3. (verb) To pick on, to tease.
[US]S. King Dreamcatcher 152: ‘Come on, you dickweed,’ Beaver says. One thing about the Beav, he knows a really excellent rank when he hears it.

6. (US campus) to ridicule.

[US]Da Bomb [Internet] 23: Rank: To make fun of; ridicule.

In phrases

rank a joint (v.) [joint n. (4a)]

(US Und.) to blunder in the operation of a confidence trick.

[US]D. Maurer Big Con 305: To rank a joint. For a grifter to make a mistake while a mark is being played for, thus revealing that the confidence game is crooked. If the mark sees the mistake and realizes what is happening, the store is then ranked.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 174/1: Rank a joint. 1. To render a place unfit for criminal operations; to render a place unsafe for robbery. ‘That score (robbery) is screwed up (ruined). You ranked the joint makin’ all that noise.’.
rank out (v.) [i.e. to abandon one’s aggressive posture (on model of cop out v.2 etc)]

(US black) to beg for help, to surrender to pressure, to behave badly or weakly.

Too $hort ‘Somethin to Ride To’ [lyrics] on Shorty the Pimp [album] I ain’t going to talk bad / No I ain’t going to rank out.
[US]K. Scott Monster (1994) 133: I never once thought of rankin’ out, pleading, or otherwise backing down.
rank someone’s game (v.) (also rank someone’s action, …play, …style) [game n. (6) / action n. (4) / play n. / SE style]

(US black) to obstruct deliberately another’s sexual advances.

[US]C. Himes ‘A Nigger’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 29: Miss Lou, an evil old ex-whore with a grudge against the world [...] had sent Mr Shelton on up to catch him there in the hopes of ranking Fay’s play.
[US]C. Himes Blind Man with a Pistol (1971) 123: ‘We’re ranking Slick’s play,’ another man said.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 3: Punk over there rankin’ my play. [Ibid.] 139: There are a number of expressions [...] that characterize one person’s attempt to interrupt, impede, or totally sabotage another person’s action [...] to rank someone, to mess up/rank someone’s action/style/game/play .