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illustration Ruthful



Part of speech: adjective

Origin: English, 13th century


Full of sorrow; sorrowful; woeful; rueful.


Full of ruth or pity; merciful; compassionate.

Examples of Ruthful in a sentence

"Even though our Great Dane is a pampered creature, my husband always gets ruthful when the dog whines at not being allowed to sleep in our bed."

"My grandfather was a ruthful man who took great pride in helping neighbors during their times of need."

About Ruthful

“Ruthful” was formed within English, based on the word “ruth,” an early term for compassion or sadness at the suffering of others.

Did you Know?

Most people are more familiar with the opposite of “ruthful” — “ruthless” — but both are based on the early Middle English word “ruth,” describing sadness for the suffering of others, or compassion. (In Middle English, “ruth” had dozens of spellings, from “rauþe” to “ræuðe” to “reuþthe” to the more recognizable “ruith” and “reweth.”) To be ruthful, therefore, is to have so much compassion — “ruth” — that one is filled with sorrow at the sufferings of others. By contrast, to be “ruthless” is to act without any sorrow for others’ pain and suffering.

illustration Ruthful

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