Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Inspiring pity or compassion.
  • adj. Causing, feeling, or expressing sorrow or regret.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Causing, feeling, or expressing regret or sorrow.
  • adj. Inspiring pity or compassion.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Causing one to rue or lament; woeful; mournful; sorrowful.
  • adj. Expressing sorrow.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • . Full of pity or compassion; pitying.
  • Worthy of pity or sorrow; lamentable; pitiable; deplorable; sorry.
  • Expressive of regret, sorrow, or misfortune; mournful; sad; melancholy; lugubrious.
  • Synonyms Doleful, lugubrious, regretful.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. feeling or expressing pain or sorrow for sins or offenses

Etymologies

rue + -ful (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In fact, it could be the kind of flop that folks around the blogosphere discuss in rueful tones.

    Paint it black: DC Comics solicitations for July 2009 | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment

  • With wry insight, he views the Steins ensconced in rueful domesticity.

    The Book of Salt: Summary and book reviews of The Book of Salt by Monique Truong.

  • Priscilla, in rueful remembrance of many trips to the dressmaker's.

    Just Patty

  • (Obviously Shafer disagrees with Barthoff's conclusion that Villages embodies "a certain rueful but forgiving intelligence and, yes, wisdom about the accumulating passages, overt and hidden, of ordinary human existence," but that Walter Berthoff liked this novel while Shafer did not certainly seems an insufficient reason to call Berthoff dishonest.

    Book Reviewing

  • His expression was rueful as he glanced down at me.

    At First Sight

  • When it was finally belching smoke to his satisfaction, he looked at me, and in his eye was what I can only describe as a rueful twinkle.

    The Beekeeper's Apprentice

  • Lochte smiled, the kind of grin that some might call rueful, but for him it was just a chuckle.

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  • And through it all he had the quick memory of his mother's companionship, he could recall her rueful looks whenever the eager inaccurate ways, in which he reflected certain ineradicable tendencies of her own, had lost him a school advantage; he could remember her exhortations, with the dash in them of humorous self-reproach which made them so stirring to the child's affection; and he could realise their old far-off life at Murewell, the joys and the worries of it, and see her now gossiping with the village folk, now wearing herself impetuously to death in their service, and now roaming with him over the Surrey heaths in search of all the dirty delectable things in which a boy-naturalist delights.

    Robert Elsmere

  • And through it all he had the quiet, memory of his mother's companionship, he could recall her rueful looks whenever the eager inaccurate ways, in which he reflected certain ineradicable tendencies of her own, had lost him a school advantage; he could remember her exhortations, with the dash in them of humorous self-reproach which made them so stirring to the child's affection; and he could realize their old far-off life at Murewell, the joys and the worries of it, and see her now gossiping with the village folk, now wearing herself impetuously to death in their service, and now roaming with him over the Surrey heaths in search of all the dirty delectable things in which a boy-naturalist delights.

    Robert Elsmere

  • I could tell by the look on his face - kind of rueful and thunderous - as he walked down the path that something had happened.

    August 2005

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  • Rueful, most vexed, that tender skin
    Should accept so fell a wound

    from 'Bucolics,' by Sylvia Plath

    April 9, 2008