Definition of rueful in English:

rueful

adjective

  • Expressing sorrow or regret, especially in a wry or humorous way.

    ‘she gave a rueful grin’
    • ‘Then, pint in hand, I make my way over to Clem with a rueful grin, preparing to tell him about my encounter with Don and Len.’
    • ‘His rueful recollections shed light on an often-perplexing artistic career, one that has left him looking distinctly battle-weary.’
    • ‘She exhaled, letting a bit of the tension flow out of her, and gave me a rueful grin.’
    • ‘The island's startling natural beauty can be a rueful reminder of what once was, up and down the Caribbean archipelago.’
    • ‘That conflict produces the rueful sense of disappointment that all of Ford's characters share, and that he illuminates so well.’
    • ‘He shook his head slowly, with a rueful smile on his face.’
    • ‘The French referendum result should raise rueful smiles’
    • ‘He was dignified and rueful, but it was hard to imagine that it had come as a dreadful personal blow.’
    • ‘There is a rueful self-deprecation at play here, at odds with a quiet desperation.’
    • ‘Yet, as he travels from airport to morgue, waiting room to railway carriage, these bland modern spaces seem to tease out of him at last a rueful sense of guilt and blame.’
    • ‘An older and rueful prime minister may reflect that some of the optimism felt on that spring day in 1997 is still around, and maybe he can take some credit for that.’
    • ‘She gave her a rueful grin and hurried out the front door, nearly slamming into Kyle.’
    • ‘Now they have nothing but rueful regrets accompanied by doubts about how much longer this partly ageing side can remain together.’
    • ‘Kay nodded to Ryan with a rueful grin upon his lips as he slipped out of his seat and moved towards the ladies.’
    • ‘A slow and rueful smile played on the old man's lips.’
    • ‘What you lose, inevitably, is Orwell's peculiar tone of voice: rueful, ironic, honest, self-deprecating.’
    • ‘He looked up and found Alex staring at him, a strange, almost rueful grin on his face.’
    • ‘A rueful smile crosses Weir's face as he remembers such descriptions.’
    • ‘When nothing happened, she turned, and gave a rueful little shrug.’
    • ‘She nodded and he turned to Holly with a rueful smile.’
    sorrowful, regretful, apologetic, sorry, remorseful, shamefaced, sheepish, hangdog, contrite, repentant, penitent, conscience-stricken, self-reproachful
    View synonyms

Origin

Middle English (also in the sense ‘pitiable’): from the noun rue + -ful.

Pronunciation

rueful

/ˈruːf(ə)l//ˈruːfʊl/