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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rues

Historical Examples

  • What the eye views not, the heart craves not, as well as rues not.

    No Cross, No Crown

    William Penn

  • A vast and enthusiastic audience thronged, with joyous clatter, through narrow Rues Mazarine and Dauphine, coming from the river.

  • The above Goat's-rues are of the simplest culture; they will do in any soil, but if they are liberally treated they will repay it.

  • The enemy advance had continued with remarkable rapidity towards Rues Vertes and Marcoing.

    Norman Ten Hundred</p>

    A. Stanley Blicq

  • The scene took place in front of a house which was being pulled down at the corner of the rues Duphot and Saint-Honore.

    The Lesser Bourgeoisie

    Honore de Balzac

British Dictionary definitions for rues


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 rues



"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

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