Origin of English word RUTHLESS

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English Word


Edenic Word


Hebrew Word







[RT or TH→ R-TH]


The Biblical Book of Ruth is significant because Ruth's son is King David's grandfather. The heroine and her story are marked by grief, sorrow, pity and, above all, compassion. The four terms above are precisely the definitions listed for the archaic word RUTH. Pity and compassion are antonyms of RUTHLESS.  RUTHFUL means showing or arousing pity or sorrow. The dictionaries would sidestep the Biblical ancestor of the Messiah and link the word RUTH to Middle English reuthe, which derives from Old English hreowan (to rue). The word "rue", also from hreowan, means regret or repent, and is traced to the Indo-European base qreu (matted blood, raw flesh...basic sense "to shudder with horror.")                   See "GORE" and SCARE.

While Ruth's name is a Moabite one,  ROOT, ROOS or RUTH may connect to terms like רעות R[A]yOOTH (friendship).


Other English words linked to Hebrew names elsewhere in this book include:    BABLE (Babel) בבל ,    BLAME (Balaam) בלעם   , COLLOSUS (Goliath), GONORRHEA (Gomorrah), JACK and JOCKEY (Jacob), perhaps JUDGE - and certainly JEW - (Judah), JINX (Jonah), JOVIAL (Jehova), MACABRE (Maccabee), OGRE (Og), and SODIUM (Sodom). To speculate further:  HEGIRA (”flight, as from danger or hardship” – AHD, from Arabib alhijra; HEGIRA may be from Hagar, matriarch of the Arab people, who flees in Genesis 16:8),  JILT might  be related to Jael; JORDAN (a chamber pot) ought to come from the river; JOHN (noun) and ZANY (adjective) originate with the name Yohannon; JORUM (a bowl) should be from King Jorum (IISamuel8:10); a JOSEPH is a coat; RIBALD (linked to a theoretical name and to Middle Dutch ribe - a whore) may come from Rahab the prostitute inJoshua 2-6; and SCAM, SCAMP and SCANDAL might have been influenced by the ploy, the rogue and the disgrace of Shechem in Genesis34. SIMONY is ultimately derived from the Biblical  SHiMOAN (Simeon).

For insight’s into the name of Ruth’s foil in the book of Ruth, Orpah, see SCRUFF.

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