[roo-fuh l]


causing sorrow or pity; pitiable; deplorable: a rueful plight.
feeling, showing, or expressing sorrow or pity; mournful; doleful: the rueful look on her face.

Nearby words

  1. rudy,
  2. rudyard,
  3. rue,
  4. rue anemone,
  5. rue family,
  6. ruefully,
  7. rufen,
  8. rufescent,
  9. ruff,
  10. ruffe

Origin of rueful

First recorded in 1175–1225, rueful is from the Middle English word reowful. See rue1, -ful

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rueful

British Dictionary definitions for rueful



feeling or expressing sorrow or repentancea rueful face
inspiring sorrow or pity
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



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper