Rue the Day: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
December 9, 2023

The phrase "rue the day" means to bitterly regret a particular action or decision. It originates from the word "rue," which means to regret something bitterly. The phrase is often used as a warning or prediction of regret.

In short:

  • "Rue the day" means to deeply regret a particular event or decision in the past.

What Does “Rue the Day” Mean?

The phrase "rue the day" means to regret something deeply. When someone says they'll "rue the day," they're expressing a strong feeling of regret about a particular event or decision. It's a way of saying that they'll always regret that moment.

  • It often implies a lasting regret.
  • It can be used in both serious and light-hearted contexts.
  • There are variations of this idiom like "you'll rue this moment" or "he rues the decision.

While the core meaning revolves around regret, the intensity and context can vary depending on how the word is used.

Where Does “Rue the Day” Come From?

The phrase “rue the day” has its roots in the Old English word “hreowan,” which as a verb means to “make (someone) sorry, cause (someone) to grieve, distress, affect with regret.” As a noun, it refers to feelings of sorrow or regret. The term “rue” was a commonly used word in Middle English in the titular sense by the 13th century. Although many attribute the phrase to William Shakespeare, he never used that specific phrase. He used the phrases, “Rue the tears,” “Rue the time” and “Rue the hour” in his writings, but never specifically "rue the day.

10 Examples of “Rue the Day” in Sentences

Here are some examples to help you understand how "rue the day" can be used in different contexts:

  • After eating all the candy, Timmy said he would rue the day he ignored his mother's warning.
  • Quite frankly, she will rue the day she decided to skip the final exam.
  • If you betray the team, you'll rue the day you ever joined us.
  • They might laugh now, but they'll rue the day they underestimated her.
  • He said he'd rue the day he ever moved to the city.
  • I rue the day I took a leap of faith and trusted him with my secrets.
  • You might think it's a good idea now, but during trying times you'll rue the day you turned down that job offer.
  • She told him he'd rue the day he left her for someone else.
  • Many rue the day they didn't invest in the stock when it was cheap.
  • I'll rue the day our paths crossed, I knew you were trouble from the start.

Examples of “Rue the Day” in Pop Culture

The phrase "rue the day" has been referenced in various forms of media and art over the years.

Here are some notable mentions:

  • In the Nickelodeon series iCarly, the antagonist Nevel Papperman (first appearing in the episode iNevel) often threatens Carly and her friends with the phrase "you'll rue the day. "
  • The phrase is further prominent in the episode "iRue the day", during which Nevel tries to sabotage the iCarly broadcast.
  • In the song "Rue the Day" by Amanda Fagan, the singer tells someone that they'll regret the day they ever crossed her.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say “Rue the Day”

While "rue the day" is a unique idiom, there are other phrases and words that can convey a similar sentiment of regret.

Here are some alternatives:

  • Regret
  • Lament
  • Bemoan
  • Deplore
  • Wish one hadn’t
  • Feel sorry about
  • Be remorseful about
  • Repent
  • Look back with regret on
  • Have a change of heart about

10 Frequently Asked Questions About “Rue the Day”:

  • What does "rue the day" mean?

It's an idiom that means to deeply regret a particular event or decision in the past.

  • Where did the phrase "rue the day" originate?

The origin can be traced back to Old English, with the word "rue" meaning to feel sorrow or regret.

  • Is "rue the day" still commonly used today?

While it may be considered archaic in some contexts, it's still used, especially in literature, drama, and certain expressions with a prophetic or humorous undertone.

  • Can "rue the day" be used in a humorous context?

Yes, sometimes it's used with a slight undertone of humor, especially when the regret isn't too severe.

  • Are there other idioms similar to "rue the day"?

Yes, idioms like "kick oneself," "cry over spilled milk," and "have second thoughts" convey similar sentiments of regret.

  • How can I use "rue the day" in a sentence?

For example: "If you don't keep up the good work, you might rue the day you procrastinated."

  • Is "rue" used in any other common expressions?

While "rue" primarily appears in the idiom "rue the day," it can occasionally be found in older literature in phrases like "rue the hour" or "rue the moment."

  • Why is the word "day" used in the idiom instead of "moment" or "time"?

The specific choice of "day" emphasizes the lasting and significant regret over a particular event or decision.

  • Is "rue the day" used more in British or American English?

It's used in both British and American English, but its usage might vary based on context and regional preferences.

  • Can "rue the day" be used in a positive context?

Typically, "rue the day" has a negative connotation associated with regret. It's not commonly used in a positive context.

Final Thoughts About “Rue the Day”

The idiom "rue the day" signifies the deep and sorrowful regret that one may have. Over the centuries, it has evolved and found its place in literature, drama, and everyday conversations. While its usage might have waned recently, it remains a powerful expression of regret.

  • It's an idiom that conveys deep regret about a past event or decision.
  • The phrase has its roots in Old English and has been part of the language for centuries.
  • While it might sound archaic to some, it's still used in various contexts, both serious and humorous.
  • Understanding idioms like "rue the day" enriches our vocabulary and allows us to express complex emotions with just a few words.

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