rue the day: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘rue the day’ mean?

The idiom *rue the day* means to deeply regret or feel sorrow for a past action or decision, often with a sense of wishing it had never happened. This expression implies a strong feeling of remorse or repentance.

Idiom Explorer

The Curse Unleashed

Rue the day is an English idiom that means to feel regret or remorse for something that has happened or that one has done. The idiom originated from the late Middle Ages, and its exact origin is unclear. However, its usage can be traced back to the 14th and 15th centuries in various forms and contexts.

One notable early appearance of the phrase can be found in Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" written in the late 14th century. In "The Knight's Tale," Chaucer writes, "For by the Love a God above, Said Palamon, Thou shalt rue it deere." Here, the word "rue" is used to convey a sense of regret or sorrow.

Over time, "rue the day" became more commonly used to express a stronger sense of regret or repentance. It implies a deeply felt and long-lasting remorse for a particular action or decision. Native English speakers understand the meaning of the phrase without the need for further explanation.

Usage of the idiom can be found in various literary works, both old and modern. It often serves to convey a warning or foreshadowing of negative consequences that will be experienced by someone who has made a particular choice or taken a certain course of action. In everyday speech and writing, the idiom is frequently used to express strong regret or a desire to undo a past event.

In hindsight, rue with remorse the consequence of regret.

The idiom remains widely understood and used in contemporary English. It has transcended its origins in medieval literature and become a common expression in modern language. The phrase "rue the day" resonates with people, conveying a powerful sense of regret and an acknowledgement of the irreversible nature of certain decisions.

Despite the mystery surrounding its exact origin, the idiom's continued prevalence and usage in the English language is a testament to its enduring power. It reminds us that our decisions have real impact and cannot be undone. As we encounter situations in our lives where we feel regret, we can connect with the sentiment of "rue the day" and reflect on the weight of our choices and the consequences they may bring.

The idiom "have seen one's day" is related to "rue the day" in that both express a sense of regret or loss. "Have seen one's day" means that something or someone used to be successful or in their prime, but is no longer. It can be used to describe a person, an object, or even a place. For example, one might say, "That old factory has seen better days" to convey that it was once thriving but is now in a state of decline.

The idiom "days of yore" is also related to "rue the day," as it evokes a sense of nostalgia for a bygone era. "Days of yore" refers to a time in the past, often romanticized, when things were perceived to be better or simpler. It can be used to describe a specific period or simply a general longing for the past. For example, one might say, "In the days of yore, people relied on handwritten letters instead of emails."

The idiom "crying shame" can be connected to "rue the day" as both express a strong negative emotion. "Crying shame" is used to express deep disappointment or disapproval. It is often used to describe a situation or action that is considered to be unjust, unfair, or unfortunate. For example, one might say, "It's a crying shame that such a talented musician is not receiving recognition for their work."

The idiom "too bad" is related to "rue the day" in that both convey a sense of regret or disappointment. "Too bad" is used to express sympathy, disappointment, or a sense of missed opportunity. It is often used in response to an unfortunate event or situation. For example, one might say, "It's too bad that the concert was cancelled, I was really looking forward to it."

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "rue the day" can be used in a sentence:

  1. She will rue the day she broke her promise to him.
  2. He threatened the politician, saying, "You will rue the day you betrayed the people."
  3. When he lost his job, he began to rue the day he quit his previous position.

The idiom "rue the day" is typically used to express regret or remorse for a past action or decision. It implies that the person will deeply regret or feel sorry for what they have done, usually due to unforeseen negative consequences. It can be used in various contexts, such as personal relationships, confrontations, or career choices. The phrase "rue the day" carries a sense of strong emotional regret or repentance and is often used to emphasize the seriousness of the consequences faced by the individual.

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