Share this entry

rueful Line breaks: rue¦ful
Pronunciation: /ˈruːfʊl/

Definition of rueful in English:


Expressing sorrow or regret, especially in a wry or humorous way: she gave a rueful grin
More example sentences
  • Now they have nothing but rueful regrets accompanied by doubts about how much longer this partly ageing side can remain together.
  • Kay nodded to Ryan with a rueful grin upon his lips as he slipped out of his seat and moved towards the ladies.
  • She gave her a rueful grin and hurried out the front door, nearly slamming into Kyle.


Middle English (also in the sense 'pitiable'): from the noun rue1 + -ful.



Pronunciation: /ˈruːfʊli/
Example sentences
  • Although the album did extremely well, Scott admits ruefully that everyone else who recorded on the album made money except him.
  • I shake my head ruefully at your letter, however well intentioned.
  • But Louise ruefully confessed she rarely tunes in to watch television these days.


Example sentences
  • There is a quality of self-directed ruefulness or self-causation.
  • I told her about my coffee date with my neighbour last week, and we analysed with our usual ruefulness the mixture of mellowness and awkwardness that arose.
  • Folk and country, romance and ruefulness, innocence and experience are all conjoined in their bewitching vocal harmonies.

Words that rhyme with rueful

woeful • joyful • useful

Definition of rueful in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day exemplum
Pronunciation: ɪɡˈzɛmpləm
an example or model...