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verb (used with object), rued, ru·ing.
  1. to feel sorrow over; repent of; regret bitterly: to rue the loss of opportunities.
  2. to wish that (something) had never been done, taken place, etc.: I rue the day he was born.
verb (used without object), rued, ru·ing.
  1. to feel sorrow, repentance, or regret.
  1. sorrow; repentance; regret.
  2. pity or compassion.

Origin of rue1

before 900; (v.) Middle English ruen, rewen, Old English hrēowan; cognate with Dutch rouwen, German reuen; (noun) Middle English rewe, reowe, Old English hrēow; cognate with Dutch rouw, German Reue; cf. ruth
Related formsru·er, nounun·rued, adjective


  1. any strongly scented plant of the genus Ruta, especially R. graveolens, having yellow flowers and leaves formerly used in medicine.
Compare rue family.

Origin of rue2

1350–1400; Middle English < Middle French < Latin rūta < Greek rhȳtḗ

de la Rue

[del-uh roo, del-uh roo]
  1. Warren,1815–89, English astronomer and inventor.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rue

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I assure you that now they are at the corner of the Rue Magloire.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • Her room was on the Rue des Orfevres, only three doors away from the Huberts.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • I may rue my opposition as long as I live, for aught she knows.

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • I took a pretty flat on the first floor of a house in the Rue de Rome.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • I had no suspicion then how momentous they were, but afterwards I had occasion to rue them.

    A Hero of Our Time

    M. Y. Lermontov

British Dictionary definitions for rue


verb rues, ruing or rued
  1. to feel sorrow, remorse, or regret for (one's own wrongdoing, past events with unpleasant consequences, etc)
  1. archaic sorrow, pity, or regret
Derived Formsruer, noun

Word Origin

Old English hrēowan; related to Old Saxon hreuwan, Old High German hriuwan


  1. any rutaceous plant of the genus Ruta, esp R. graveolens, an aromatic Eurasian shrub with small yellow flowers and evergreen leaves which yield an acrid volatile oil, formerly used medicinally as a narcotic and stimulantArchaic name: herb of grace Compare goat's-rue, meadow rue, wall rue

Word Origin

C14: from Old French, from Latin rūta, from Greek rhutē
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for rue


"feel regret," Old English hreowan "make sorry, distress, grieve" (class II strong verb; past tense hreaw, past participle hrowen), from Proto-Germanic *khrewanan (cf. Old Frisian riowa, Middle Dutch rouwen, Old Dutch hrewan, German reuen "to sadden, cause repentance"); in part, blended with Old English weak verb hreowian "feel pain or sorrow," and perhaps influenced by Old Norse hryggja "make sad," both from Proto-Germanic *khruwjanan, all from PIE root *kreue- (2) "to push, strike" (see anacrusis). Related: Rued; ruing.


perennial evergreen shrub, late 14c., from Old French rue (13c.), earlier rude, from Latin ruta "rue," probably from Greek rhyte, of uncertain etymology, originally a Peloponnesian word. The bitter taste of its leaves led to many punning allusions to rue (n.2.).


"sorrow, repentance," Old English hreow "grief, repentance, sorrow, regret, penitence," common Germanic (cf. Frisian rou, Middle Dutch rou, Dutch rouw, Old High German (h)riuwa, German reue), related to the root of rue (v.).


French for "street," from Vulgar Latin *ruga (cf. Old Italian ruga), properly "a furrow," then in Medieval Latin "a path, street" (see rough (adj.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper