bitterly regret (something one has done or allowed to happen); to feel remorse or sorrow for

This word appears in the David Crystal book, Words Words Words: “I’ve been badly biscuited, the child might ruefully reflect, later.” The sentence is meant to emphasize a British slang usage of biscuit, but I like it for the little three-letter word (here in its longer adverb form) packed with connotation. One of my most vivid memories of this word, probably because of its different meaning there, was in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where Ophelia sings: “There’s rue for you; and here’s some for me. We may call it herb of grace a Sunday’s. O, you must wear your rue with a difference.” Ophelia’s herb is, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, “any of various aromatic southwest Asian or Mediterranean plants of the genus Ruta…having bipinnately compound leaves that yield an acrid volatile oil formerly used in medicine.”

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One Response to rue

  1. Dad says:

    Doesn’t everyone have a day or days to rue?

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