Try Our Apps


Supposedly vs. Supposably


[roo-fuh l] /ˈru fəl/
causing sorrow or pity; pitiable; deplorable:
a rueful plight.
feeling, showing, or expressing sorrow or pity; mournful; doleful:
the rueful look on her face.
Origin of rueful
1175-1225; Middle English reowful. See rue1, -ful
Related forms
ruefully, adverb
ruefulness, noun
half-rueful, adjective
half-ruefully, adverb
unrueful, adjective
unruefully, adverb
unruefulness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for rueful
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Not a bit, was the rueful response, but Im afraid the day-lilies are!

    The Turner Twins Ralph Henry Barbour
  • Captain Elisha, with a rueful smile, pointed to the floral centerpiece.

    Cap'n Warren's Wards Joseph C. Lincoln
  • "I think both things are explainable," Andrew replied with a rueful smile.

    For the Allinson Honor Harold Bindloss
  • "Naturally, and with reason," was the answer, delivered with a rueful smile.

    The Snare Rafael Sabatini
  • As the door closed behind him, Loring turned to me with a rueful shake of the head.

    Sonia Between two Worlds Stephen McKenna
British Dictionary definitions for rueful


feeling or expressing sorrow or repentance: a rueful face
inspiring sorrow or pity
Derived Forms
ruefully, adverb
ruefulness, 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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for rueful

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for rueful

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for rueful

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for rueful