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

  • n. Compassion or pity for another.
  • n. Sorrow or misery about one's own misdeeds or flaws.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Sorrow for the misery of another; pity; tenderness.
  • n. That which causes pity or compassion; misery; distress; a pitiful sight.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Sorrow; misery; grief.
  • n. That which brings ruth; cruel or barbarous conduct.
  • n. Sorrow for the misery of another; compassion; pity; mercy; tenderness.
  • n. Repentance; regret.
  • n. A pitiful sight; a pity.

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

  • n. the great-grandmother of king David whose story is told in the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament
  • n. a book of the Old Testament that tells the story of Ruth who was not an Israelite but who married an Israelite and who stayed with her mother-in-law Naomi after her husband died
  • n. a feeling of sympathy and sorrow for the misfortunes of others
  • n. United States professional baseball player famous for hitting home runs (1895-1948)


Middle English ruthe, from Old Norse hrygdh (influenced by Old English hrēow, sorrow, regret).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English ruthe, reowthe, corresponding to rue +‎ -th, perhaps after early Scandinavian (compare Old Norse hrygð, hryggð ("ruth, sorrow")). Compare rue. (Wiktionary)



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  • Pity or remorse

    September 6, 2008

  • "Stark ruth of man his errand that him lone led till that house."
    Joyce, Ulysses, 14

    January 20, 2007