top of page



How to pronounce rueful (audio)


Monster Trucks in Space

Dictionary definition of rueful

Expressing regret or remorse for something someone has done or failed to do.
"She gave a rueful apology for her mistake."


Detailed meaning of rueful

It implies a sense of sorrow or repentance, often associated with a sense of self-blame or disappointment. The word "rueful" is often used to describe a facial expression or tone of voice that is apologetic or remorseful, as if the person is acknowledging their mistakes or shortcomings. A rueful smile might be one that is tinged with sadness or regret, while a rueful apology might be one that is sincere and heartfelt. Despite its negative connotations, the word "rueful" can also be used to describe someone who is learning from their mistakes and striving to do better in the future.

Example sentences containing rueful

1. With a rueful smile, she admitted her mistake.
2. His rueful apology couldn't undo the damage done.
3. The rueful look in his eyes spoke of deep regret.
4. She wore a rueful expression as she recalled the past.
5. His rueful admission of guilt weighed heavily on him.
6. The moment was marked by a rueful acknowledgment of failure.

History and etymology of rueful

The adjective 'rueful' has its origins in the Old English word 'hrēowan,' which means 'to feel remorse or sorrow.' This Old English term is linked to the Proto-Germanic root '*hrewan,' conveying the idea of 'to grieve' or 'to lament.' Over time, 'hrēowan' evolved into Middle English as 'reowful,' still retaining its essence of expressing regret or sorrow. The term 'rueful' is a continuation of this Middle English word, and it maintains its etymological connection to the sense of remorse or sadness for something one has done or failed to do, embodying a poignant acknowledgment of past actions.

Quiz: Find the meaning of rueful

Try Again!


Further usage examples of rueful

1. He offered a rueful nod, acknowledging his error.
2. Her rueful tone betrayed her remorse for the decision.
3. A rueful sigh escaped his lips as he reflected on the past.
4. The rueful laughter that followed couldn't hide the pain.
5. He wore a rueful expression as he watched his team lose.
6. Her rueful confession brought tears to their eyes.
7. The rueful apology was heartfelt but couldn't change the past.
8. She couldn't help but feel rueful about the missed opportunity.
9. His rueful reflection on his actions led to self-improvement.
10. The rueful realization came too late to make amends.
11. They shared a rueful glance, understanding the consequences.
12. The conversation ended on a rueful note of regret.
13. His rueful admission of wrongdoing opened the door to forgiveness.
14. The rueful expression on his face revealed the depth of his remorse.
15. His rueful expression revealed his regret over his past actions.
16. The rueful tone of his voice conveyed his remorse.
17. The rueful smile on her face showed that she was sorry for what she had done.
18. The rueful look in his eyes told me that he wished he had done things differently.
19. The child gave me a rueful look after breaking the vase.
20. His rueful demeanor suggested that he was disappointed with himself.
21. The rueful confession in his letter was heartfelt and sincere.
22. The player gave a rueful shake of his head after missing the winning shot.
23. The rueful mood in the room was one of regret and disappointment.
24. The rueful expression on her face showed that she had learned from her mistake.
25. His rueful smile suggested that he had a sense of humor about his failure.



remorseful, unapologetic, indifferent, content


Suffix -ful, SAT 20 (Scholastic Assessment Test), Discomfort and Distress, Sadness and Misery

bottom of page