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rueful

[roo-fuh l]
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adjective
  1. causing sorrow or pity; pitiable; deplorable: a rueful plight.
  2. feeling, showing, or expressing sorrow or pity; mournful; doleful: the rueful look on her face.
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Origin of rueful

First recorded in 1175–1225, rueful is from the Middle English word reowful. See rue1, -ful
Related formsrue·ful·ly, adverbrue·ful·ness, nounhalf-rue·ful, adjectivehalf-rue·ful·ly, adverbun·rue·ful, adjectiveun·rue·ful·ly, adverbun·rue·ful·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for rueful

mournful, sad, apologetic, ashamed, deplorable, lamentable, remorseful, repentant, sorrowful, sorry

Examples from the Web for rueful

Contemporary Examples of rueful

Historical Examples of rueful

  • Duncan drew a rueful face, contemplating the place where she had been.

    The Fortune Hunter

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • "You were right," affirmed Kirkwood, with a rueful and crooked smile.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • You will do the anathema--rueful rather than enraged--from the tent opening.

    The Forest

    Stewart Edward White

  • Captain Elisha, with a rueful smile, pointed to the floral centerpiece.

    Cap'n Warren's Wards

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • "Naturally, and with reason," was the answer, delivered with a rueful smile.

    The Snare

    Rafael Sabatini


British Dictionary definitions for rueful

rueful

adjective
  1. feeling or expressing sorrow or repentancea rueful face
  2. inspiring sorrow or pity
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Derived Formsruefully, adverbruefulness, noun
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 rueful

adj.

early 13c., rewfulle, reowfule, from rue (n.2) + -ful. Related: Ruefulness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper