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    roundhouse (n.) — rugby (n.)

    roundhouse (n.)

    also round-house, mid-15c., "lockup, place of imprisonment, a guarded building" (a sense now obsolete), from Dutch rondhuis "guardhouse;" see round (adj.) + house (n.). The U.S. railroading sense of "circular shed for locomotives with a turntable in the center" is from 1856. In pugilism, in reference to a blow delivered with a wide sweep of the arm (by 1920); in baseball of a sidearm pitch (by 1910), both perhaps extended from the mechanical sense of "round building for machinery worked by circular movement."ETD roundhouse (n.).2

    round robin (n.)

    "petition or complaint signed in a circle to disguise the order in which names were affixed and prevent ringleaders from being identified," 1730, originally in reference to sailors and frequently identified as a nautical term. As a kind of tournament in which each player plays the others, it is recorded from 1895.ETD round robin (n.).2

    round-table (n.)

    also roundtable, 1826 in reference to a gathering of persons in which all are accorded equal status (there being no head of a round table.) King Arthur's Round Table is attested from c. 1300, translating Old French table ronde (1155, in Wace's Roman de Brut).ETD round-table (n.).2

    roundup (n.)

    also round-up, by 1869 in the cattle drive sense; from verbal phrase round up "to collect in a mass" (1610s; specifically by 1847 of livestock in grazing areas, "drive or bring together in close order"); see round (v.) + up (adv.). The original notion is presumably "heap or fill so as to make round at the top." The meaning "summary of news items" is recorded from 1886.ETD roundup (n.).2

    rouse (v.)

    mid-15c., rousen, intransitive, probably from Anglo-French or Old French reuser, ruser; Middle English Compendium compares 16c. French rousee "abrupt movement." Sometimes also said to be from Latin recusare "refuse, decline," with loss of the medial -c-. Originally in English a technical term in hawking, "to shaking the feathers of the body," but like many medieval hawking and hunting terms it is of obscure origin.ETD rouse (v.).2

    The sense of "cause game to rise from cover or lair" is from 1520s. The word became general from 16c. in the figurative, transitive, meaning "stir up, cause to start up by noise or clamor, provoke to activity; waken from torpor or inaction" (1580s); that of "to awaken, cause to start from slumber or repose" is recorded by 1590s. Related: Roused; rousing.ETD rouse (v.).3

    rousing (adj.)

    "having the power to excite or astonish," 1640s, present-participle adjective from rouse (v.).ETD rousing (adj.).2

    rouser (n.)

    "one who or that which excites into action," 1610s, agent noun from rouse (v.). Also colloquially, "something exciting or astonishing" (by 1839).ETD rouser (n.).2

    roust (v.)

    "raise or arouse, stir up" (from one's bed, etc.), 1650s, probably an alteration of rouse with excrescent -t. Related: Rousted; rousting.ETD roust (v.).2

    roustabout (n.)

    "common deck hand, wharf worker," 1868, American English, perhaps from roust + about. But another theory connects it to British dialect rousing "rough, shaggy," a word associated perhaps with rooster. Meanwhile, compare rouseabout "a restless, roaming person" (1746), which seems to have endured in Australian and New Zealand English. With extended senses in U.S., including "circus hand" (1931); "manual laborer on an oil rig" (1948).ETD roustabout (n.).2

    route (n.)

    c. 1200, "a way, a road, space for passage," from Old French rute "road, way, path" (12c.), from Latin rupta (via) "(a road) opened by force," broken or cut through a forest, etc., from rupta, fem. past participle of rumpere "to break" (see rupture (n.)).ETD route (n.).2

    The sense of "fixed or regular course for carrying things" (originally and for long especially postal, as in mail route) is from 1792, an extension of the meaning "customary path of animals" (early 15c.) itself later extended to sales, collections, delivery of milk or newspapers, etc. OED says the pronunciation that rhymes with "stout" appeared early 19c.ETD route (n.).3

    rout (v.)

    "drive (a body of troops) into disordered flight by defeat," c. 1600, from rout (n.). Hence "defeat or repulse thoroughly." Related: Routed; routing.ETD rout (v.).2

    rout (n.)

    1590s, "a defeat (of an army, etc.) followed by disorderly retreat," from French route "disorderly flight of troops," literally "a breaking off, rupture," from Vulgar Latin *rupta "a dispersed group," literally "a broken group," from noun use of Latin rupta, fem. past participle of rumpere "to break" (see rupture (n.)).ETD rout (n.).2

    The archaic English noun rout "group of persons, assemblage," is the same word, from Anglo-French rute, Old French route "host, troop, crowd," from Vulgar Latin rupta "a dispersed group," here with sense of "a division, a detachment." It came to English meaning "group of soldiers" (early 13c.), also "gang of outlaws or rioters, mob" (c. 1300) before the more general sense developed 14c.: "large social assemblage, a general gathering of guests for entertainment." But it also kept its sense of "disorderly or confused mass of persons, the rabble," and was a legal term in this meaning. A rout-cake (1807) was one baked for use at a reception.ETD rout (n.).3

    route (v.)

    1890, of a railroad ticket, "mark for use on a certain route," from route (n.). The meaning "direct (an electrical signal, phone call, etc.) over a particular circuit or to a particular location" is by 1948. Related: Routed; routing; routeing (1881).ETD route (v.).2

    router (n.)

    "cutter that removes wood from a groove," 1818, from rout "poke about, rummage" (1540s), originally of swine digging with the snout; a variant of root (v.1).ETD router (n.).2

    routinization (n.)

    "a being or becoming routine; action of imposing a routine upon," 1916, noun of action from routinize "subject to a routine, make into a routine" (1893), from routine + -ize.ETD routinization (n.).2

    routine (n.)

    "customary course of action; more or less mechanical performance of certain acts or duties," 1670s, from French routine "usual course of action, beaten path" (16c.), from route "way, path, course" (see route (n.)) + noun suffix -ine (see -ine (1)). The theatrical or athletic performance sense of "carefully rehearsed sequence of actions" is by 1926. The adjective, "of a mechanical or unvaried character, habitually done in the same way" is attested by 1817, from the noun. Related: Routinely.ETD routine (n.).2

    roux (n.)

    in cookery, a sauce made from browned butter or fat and flour, used to thicken soups and gravies, 1813, from French (beurre) roux "browned (butter)," from roux "red, reddish-brown," from Latin russus, which is related to ruber "red" (from PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy").ETD roux (n.).2

    rove (v.)

    "to wander with no fixed destination," 1530s (earliest sense was "to shoot arrows at a mark selected at pleasure or at random," late 15c.); possibly a Midlands dialectal variant of northern English and Scottish rave "to wander, stray," from Middle English raven "to wander, stray, rove" (late 14c.). This is probably from Old Norse rafa "to wander, rove." Or it might be from Old French raver, a late 15c. variant of resver "to stray" (see rave (v.)). Influenced by rover, if not in part a back-formation from it. Related: Roved; roving.ETD rove (v.).2

    rover (n.2)

    "one who wanders or rambles," especially to a great distance, 1610s, agent noun from rove (v.). Meaning "remote-controlled surface vehicle for extraterrestrial exploration" is from 1970.ETD rover (n.2).2

    rover (n.1)

    "sea-robber, pirate," late 14c. (c. 1300 as a surname), from Middle Dutch rover "robber, predator, plunderer," especially in zeerovere "pirate," literally "sea-robber," from roven "to rob," from Middle Dutch roof "spoil, plunder," related to Old English reaf "spoil, plunder," reafian "to reave" (see reave (v.), and compare reaver).ETD rover (n.1).2

    row (n.1)

    "series of people or things in a more or less straight line," Middle English reue, from late Old English reawe, rewe, earlier ræw "a row, line; succession, hedge-row," probably from Proto-Germanic *rai(h)waz (source also of Middle Dutch rie, Dutch rij "row;" Old High German rihan "to thread," riga "line;" German Reihe "row, line, series;" Old Norse rega "string"), which is possibly from PIE root *rei- "to scratch, tear, cut" (source also of Sanskrit rikhati "scratches," rekha "line").ETD row (n.1).2

    The meaning "a number of houses in a line" is attested from mid-14c., according to OED chiefly Scottish and northern English. The meaning "line of seats in a theater" is by 1710. The meaning "line of plants in a field or garden" is by 1733, hence the figurative phrase hard row to hoe attested from 1823, American English.ETD row (n.1).3

    row (v.)

    "propel (a vessel) with oars or paddles," Middle English rouen (mid-14c.), from Old English rowan (intrans.) "go by water, row" (class VII strong verb; past tense reow, past participle rowen), from Proto-Germanic *ro- (source also of Old Norse roa, Dutch roeien, West Frisian roeije, Middle High German rüejen), from PIE root *ere- "to row." The figurative phrase row against the flood "attempt what is difficult" is from mid-12c. The muscle-building rowing-machine is attested by 1848.ETD row (v.).2

    row (n.2)

    "noisy commotion," 1746, Cambridge student slang, of uncertain origin, perhaps related to rousel "drinking bout" (c. 1600), a shortened form of carousal. Klein suggests a back-formation from rouse (n.), mistaken as a plural (compare pea from pease).ETD row (n.2).2

    rowan (n.)

    "mountain ash," 1804, from rowan-tree, rountree (1540s), rawntre (late 15c.), northern English and Scottish, from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse reynir, Swedish Ronn "the rowan"), said in Watkins to be ultimately from PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy," in reference to the berries.ETD rowan (n.).2

    rowboat (n.)

    also row-boat, "boat propelled by oars," 1530s, from row (v.) + boat. Similar formation in Dutch roeiboot.ETD rowboat (n.).2

    rowdy (n.)

    "a rough, quarrelsome person," 1808, originally "lawless backwoodsman," "Of American, but otherwise quite obscure, origin" [OED]. Perhaps from row (n.2) "noisy commotion" (itself of uncertain origin). The adjective, "having the manners of or conducting oneself like a rowdy, rough and noisy," is attested by 1819. Related: Rowdily; rowdiness; rowdyism.ETD rowdy (n.).2

    rowel (n.)

    "small, spinning wheel with radial points on a spur," mid-14c., rouel, from Old French roelle, roel (Modern French rouelle), "small wheel" (see roulette).ETD rowel (n.).2

    row-house (n.)

    also rowhouse, 1913, American English, from row (n.1), which is attested from mid-15c. in sense of "a number of houses in a line," + house (n.).ETD row-house (n.).2


    fem. proper name, from French, from Latin Roxane, from Greek Rhoxane, of Persian origin (compare Avestan raoxšna- "shining, bright"). The English spelling was influenced by Anne.ETD Roxanne.2


    cinema chain built by U.S. entertainment mogul Samuel L. "Roxy" Rothafel (1882-1936).ETD Roxy.2

    royal (adj.)

    mid-13c., "fit for a king;" late 14c., "pertaining to a king," from Old French roial "royal, regal; splendid, magnificent" (12c., Modern French royal), from Latin regalis "of a king, kingly, royal, regal," from rex (genitive regis) "king," from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line," with derivatives meaning "to direct in a straight line," thus "to lead, rule."ETD royal (adj.).2

    Of institutions, "founded under the patronage of a sovereign" (c. 1500). The meaning "splendid, first-rate" is by 1853. The U.S. colloquial use as an emphasizer, "thorough, total" is attested from 1940s. Battle royal (1670s) preserves the French pattern of adjective after noun (as in attorney general); the sense of the adjective here is "on a grand scale" (compare pair-royal "three of a kind in cards or dice," c. 1600). Royal Oak was the name given to the tree in Boscobel in Shropshire after Charles II hid himself in it during flight from the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Sprigs of oak were worn to commemorate his restoration in 1660.ETD royal (adj.).3

    royale (adj.)

    French, "royal" (see royal (adj.)).ETD royale (adj.).2

    royally (adv.)

    late 14c., "regally, in a manner befitting a sovereign, with royal pomp and splendor;" 1836, "gloriously" (colloquial), from royal (adj.) + -ly (2).ETD royally (adv.).2

    royal (n.)

    "royal person," c. 1400, from royal (adj.). Specifically "member of the royal family" from 1774, colloquial.ETD royal (n.).2

    royalist (n.)

    "supporter or adherent of a sovereign" (especially in times of civil war), "a monarchist," 1640s, from royal + -ist. In England, a partisan of Charles I and II during the Civil War; in the U.S., an adherent of British government during the Revolution; in France, a supporter of the Bourbons.ETD royalist (n.).2

    royalty (n.)

    c. 1400, "office or position of a sovereign, royal power or authority," also "magnificence," from or modeled on Old French roialte (12c., Modern French royauté), from Vulgar Latin *regalitatem (nominative *regalitas), from Latin regalis "royal, kingly; of or belonging to a king, worthy of a king" (see royal (adj.)).ETD royalty (n.).2

    The meaning "royal persons collectively" is from late 15c. From the notion of prerogatives of a sovereign the sense expanded to "prerogatives or rights granted by a sovereign to an individual or corporation" (late 15c.). From that evolved more general senses, such as "payment to a landowner for use of a mine" (1839), and ultimately "payment to an author, composer, etc." for sale or use of his or her work (1857). Compare realty.ETD royalty (n.).3

    rpg (n.)

    by 1979, initialism (acronym) from role-playing game (see roleplay). As an initialism for rocket-propelled grenade, by 1970.ETD rpg (n.).2


    1906, initialism (acronym) from revolutions per minute.ETD rpm.2

    rRNA (n.)

    stands for ribosomal RNA; see ribosome + RNA.ETD rRNA (n.).2


    also RSVP, by 1825 ("It is the custom among persons of the first rank in London, to add at the bottom of their invitation cards, R.S.V.P."), from French initialism (acronym) of répondez, s'il vous plait "reply, if you please," as it might be written on a letter or envelope.ETD R.S.V.P..2

    rub (v.)

    early 14c., rubben, transitive and intransitive, "apply friction on a surface; massage (the body or a part of it)," a word of uncertain origin, perhaps related to East Frisian rubben "to scratch, rub," and Low German rubbeling "rough, uneven," or similar words in Scandinavian (compare Danish rubbe "to rub, scrub," Norwegian rubba), all of uncertain origin. Related: Rubbed; rubbing.ETD rub (v.).2

    To rub (someone) the wrong way is by 1853; probably the notion is of animals and their fur. To rub noses in greeting as a sign of friendship (attested from 1822) said to have been formerly common among Eskimos, Maoris, and some other Pacific Islanders. Rub out is from late 14c. as "scrape away," also figurative; the meaning "obliterate" is from 1560s; underworld slang sense of "kill" is recorded from 1848, American English. Rub off "remove by rubbing" is from 1590s; rub off on "have an influence on" is recorded by 1959.ETD rub (v.).3

    rub (n.)

    "act of rubbing," 1610s, from rub (v.). Earlier it meant "obstacle, inequality on ground" (1580s), a sense common in 17c., especially in the game of bowls, in reference to something that slows or deflects a bowl, on the notion of "rubbing against" it. Hence the figure in Hamlet's there's the rub (1602). The earlier noun was rubbing (late 14c.).ETD rub (n.).2

    rub-a-dub (n.)

    1787, echoic of the sound of a drum.ETD rub-a-dub (n.).2

    rubaiyat (n.)

    "quatrains" (in Persian poetry), 1859, plural of rubai, from Arabic rubaiyah, from rubaiy "composed of four elements."ETD rubaiyat (n.).2


    musical instruction in reference to shifting time-values of notes, 1883, Italian, short for tempo rubato, literally "robbed time," from past participle of rubare "to steal, rob" (see rob (v.)).ETD rubato.2

    rubber (n.1)

    1530s, "thing that rubs" (a brush, cloth, etc.), agent noun from rub (v.). By c. 1600 as "one who applies friction or massage in some process."ETD rubber (n.1).2

    The meaning "elastic substance from tropical plants" is recorded by 1788, short for India rubber. Earlier known also as catouchou, caoutchouc, it was introduced to Europe 1744 by Charles Marie de la Condamine, so called because it originally was used to erase pencil marks from paper, etc. Later extended to synthetic substances having the same qualities.ETD rubber (n.1).3

    The meaning "an overshoe made of rubber" is 1842, American English; slang sense of "contraceptive sheath, condom" is by 1930s. As an adjective by 1844, "In very common use from about 1875" [OED]. Some figurative phrases are from the notion of rubber automobile tires.ETD rubber (n.1).4

    Rubber cement "adhesive compound containing rubber" is attested from 1856 (from 1823 as India-rubber cement). Rubber check (one that "bounces") is from 1927. The decorative household rubber plant is so called by 1876 (earlier India-rubber plant, by 1805). Rubber-chicken circuit "after-dinner speaking tour" is by 1959, in reference to the likely quality of the food.ETD rubber (n.1).5

    rubbers (n.)

    "overshoes made of rubber," by 1842, see rubber (n.1).ETD rubbers (n.).2

    rubber (n.2)

    "deciding match" in a game or contest, usually a third where each has won one, 1590s, a word of unknown origin and signification; even the original form is uncertain. Not obviously connected to rubber (n.1).ETD rubber (n.2).2

    rubbery (adj.)

    "resembling or suggestive of rubber," 1890, from rubber (n.1) + -y (2). Related: Rubberiness.ETD rubbery (adj.).2

    rubberneck (n.)

    1897, "person who is always listening to other people's conversation; person who gazes around him with undue curiosity," from rubber (n.1) + neck (n.). Popularized in reference to sightseers in automobiles. As a verb, "crane the neck in curiosity," by 1896. Related: Rubbernecking (1896); rubbernecker (1934).ETD rubberneck (n.).2

    rubber-stamp (n.)

    1879, "instrument for stamping by hand with ink, having letters or numbers cast in vulcanized rubber," from rubber (n.1) + stamp (n.). The figurative sense of "thing or institution whose power is formal but not real" is by 1901 (on the notion of rubber-stamping "approved" or some such thing on everything given to it by the real powers). The verb is by 1889; in the figurative sense by 1912. As an adjective by 1931. Related: Rubber-stamped; rubber-stamping.ETD rubber-stamp (n.).2

    rubbish (n.)

    c. 1400, robous, "waste, broken, or worn-out material," especially "rubble from the demolition of a building, etc.," from Anglo-French rubouses (late 14c.), a word of unknown origin. There are said to be no apparent cognates in Old French; OED says "app. related in some way to rubble."ETD rubbish (n.).2

    The spelling with -ish is from late 15c. As "any useless or worthless stuff" by c. 1600. The verb sense of "disparage, criticize harshly" is attested by 1953 in Australian and New Zealand slang. Related: Rubbished; rubbishing.ETD rubbish (n.).3

    rubbishy (adj.)

    1795, "abounding in rubbish," from rubbish (n.) + -y (2.). As "paltry, worthless" by 1824.ETD rubbishy (adj.).2

    rubble (n.)

    "rough, irregular stones broken from larger masses," especially "waste fragments from the demolition of a building, etc.," late 14c., robeyl, from Anglo-French *robel "bits of broken stone," which is of obscure origin, apparently related to rubbish "waste fragments" [OED], but also possibly from Old French robe (see rob). Middle English Compendium compares Anglo-Latin rubisum, robusium.ETD rubble (n.).2

    rub-down (n.)

    also rub-down, "an act of rubbing down," by 1885, from verbal phrase, from rub (v.) + down (adv.).ETD rub-down (n.).2

    rube (n.)

    1896, reub, from shortened form of the men's proper name Reuben (q.v.), which is attested from 1804 as a conventional type of name for a country man.ETD rube (n.).2

    rubefacient (adj.)

    "making red, causing redness," 1804, from Latin rubefacientem (nominative rubefaciens), present participle of rubefacere "to make red," from rubeus "red, reddish" (related to ruber, from PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy") + facere "to make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). As a noun, "substance producing redness in the skin," 1805.ETD rubefacient (adj.).2

    Rube Goldberg

    1940, in reference to U.S. cartoonist Reuben Lucius Goldberg (1883-1970) who devised fantastically complex gadgetry to accomplish simple tasks. His British counterpart was Heath Robinson (1872-1944).ETD Rube Goldberg.2

    rubella (n.)

    "German measles," contagious disease characterized by rose-colored eruptions, 1883, Modern Latin, literally "rash," from noun use of neuter plural of Latin rubellus "reddish," diminutive of ruber "red" (from PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy.").ETD rubella (n.).2

    Rubenesque (adj.)

    1904, of a woman's body, "rounded and alluringly plump," of the type characteristic of the paintings of Flemish painter Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). For "of or characteristic of Rubens or his work," Rubensian (1890) has been used.ETD Rubenesque (adj.).2

    ruby (n.)

    valuable precious gem, in modern understanding a clear, rich-red variety of corundum, c. 1300, rubi, rubie (late 12c. as a surname), from Old French rubi (12c.), from Medieval Latin rubinus lapis "red stone" (source also of Italian rubino), from Latin rubeus "red," which is related to ruber (from PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy").ETD ruby (n.).2

    As a name for a pure or somewhat crimson-red color, from 1570s. As an adjective from late 15c., "made from or with rubies;" c. 1500 as "of a ruby color." Modern French rubis is not explained; Klein suggests a plural mistaken for singular.ETD ruby (n.).3

    Rubicon (n.)

    in the figurative phrase cross (or pass) the Rubicon "take a decisive step," 1620s, a reference to a small stream to the Adriatic on the coast of northern Italy which in ancient times formed part of the southern boundary of Cisalpine Gaul. It was crossed by Caesar, Jan. 10, 49 B.C.E., when he left his province to attack Pompey. The name is from Latin rubicundus "ruddy," in reference to the color of the soil on its banks.ETD Rubicon (n.).2

    rubicund (adj.)

    early 15c. (Chauliac), "reddish, flushed," especially of the face, especially as a result of indulgence in appetites, from Old French rubicond (14c.) and directly from Latin rubicundus, from rubere "to be red," from ruber "red" (from PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy"). Related: Rubicundity.ETD rubicund (adj.).2

    Rubik's Cube (n.)

    1980, named for teacher Ernö Rubik (born 1944) who patented it in Hungary in 1975.ETD Rubik's Cube (n.).2

    ruble (n.)

    unit of the Russian monetary system, 1550s, also rouble, via French rouble, from Russian rubl', which is of obscure origin; traditionally said to be perhaps from Old Russian rubiti "to chop, cut, hew," so called because the original metallic currency of Russia (14c.) consisted of silver bars, from which the necessary amount was cut off (from Proto-Slavic *rub-, from PIE root *reub-, *reup- "to snatch;" see rip (v.)). But a foreign source (Turkish, Persian) also has been suggested.ETD ruble (n.).2

    rubric (n.)

    c. 1300, robryk, ribrusch, rubryke, "directions in a liturgical book for participation in religious services" (which often were written in red ink), from Old French rubrique, rubriche "rubric, title" (13c.) and directly from Latin rubrica "red ochre, red coloring matter," from ruber (from PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy").ETD rubric (n.).2

    The meaning "title or heading of a book" (also originally often printed in red) is from early 15c. The transferred sense of "general rule; descriptive title" is by 1831. Related: Rubrical.ETD rubric (n.).3

    ruche (n.)

    type of frill, a full plaiting of material used as trimming for women's garments at the neck and wrists, 1827, from French ruche "frill," literally "beehive" (13c.), a word of Celtic origin (compare Breton rusken), from Proto-Celtic *rusca "bark." The notion is the resemblance to the plaiting in straw beehives. Related: Ruched; ruching.ETD ruche (n.).2

    rucksack (n.)

    "backpack, bag carried on the back by walkers," 1866, from German Rucksack, from Alpine dialect Rück "the back" (from German Rücken; see ridge) + Sack "sack" (see sack (n.1)).ETD rucksack (n.).2

    ruckus (n.)

    "commotion, disorderly disturbance, row," 1872, roocus, American English (Missouri), a word of obscure origin; it has been compared to ruction and rumpus and rampage, but the early forms vary and include rookus (1882), rucus (1877), rukus (1879), also rukas, roockus, rucuss. Apparently a regional word in the U.S. West and South; when Sen. William J. Stone of Missouri used it in 1914, the editors of the New York "Sun" were baffled, but the Bismarck, N.D., "Daily Tribune" (March 3) replied that ruckus was "a word in perfectly good standing almost anywhere west of the Ohio."ETD ruckus (n.).2

    ruction (n.)

    "disturbance, disorderly dispute," 1825, a dialectal or colloquial word of unknown origin. Perhaps from eruption or an altered shortening of insurrection.ETD ruction (n.).2

    rudder (n.)

    mid-15c. (late 12c. as a surname), a variation or alteration of Middle English rother, from Old English roðor "paddle, oar," from Proto-Germanic *rothru- (source also of Old Frisian roðer, Middle Low German roder, Middle Dutch roeder, Dutch roer, Old High German ruodar, German Ruder "oar"), from *ro- "steer" (from PIE root *ere- "to row") + suffix *-þra, used to form neutral names of tools.ETD rudder (n.).2

    The original sense is obsolete. The meaning "broad, flat piece of wood attached to the stern of a boat and guided by a tiller for use in steering" is from c. 1300. For shift of -th- to -d- compare burden (n.1), murder (n.); simultaneous but opposite movement turned -d- to -th- in father (n.), etc.ETD rudder (n.).3

    rudderless (adj.)

    "lacking a rudder," c. 1600, from rudder (n.) + -less.ETD rudderless (adj.).2

    ruddy (adj.)

    Middle English rudi, from late Old English rudig "reddish, of a red color," of the complexion, "rosy, healthily red," probably from rudu "redness," which is related to read "red" (from PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy"). As a British slang euphemism for bloody (q.v.), it is recorded by 1914. Related: Ruddiness.ETD ruddy (adj.).2

    ruddock (n.)

    "redbreast, European robin," Middle English ruddoke, from late Old English rudduc, from rudu "red color," related to read "red" (from PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy") + diminutive suffix -ock.ETD ruddock (n.).2

    rude (adj.)

    late 13c., "coarse, rough, without finish" (of surfaces), from Old French ruide (13c.) and directly from Latin rudis "rough, crude, unlearned," a word of uncertain etymology, related to rudus "rubble." The usual preferred derivation is that it is from the same source as Latin rufus "red" (see rufous) via a notion of raw ("red") meat, but de Vaan points out "there is not a shimmer of a meaning 'red' in rudis or in rudus 'rubble', so that the supposed shift from 'crude (meat)' > 'crude' rests in the air."ETD rude (adj.).2

    The senses of "ill-mannered, uncultured, boorish; uneducated, ignorant" are from mid-14c.; also of actions or acts, "violent, rough." That of "of low birth or position, common, humble" is from late 14c. The meaning "marked by incivility, contrary to the requirements of courtesy" is perhaps late 14c., certainly by 16c., but difficult to distinguish from earlier "unrefined, uncultured" senses.ETD rude (adj.).3

    Rude boy (also Rudie, for short) in Jamaican slang is attested from 1967. Figurative phrase rude awakening is attested from 1895.ETD rude (adj.).4

    rudely (adv.)

    mid-14c., "unskillfully;" late 14c., "discourteously;" from rude (adj.) + -ly (2).ETD rudely (adv.).2

    rudeness (n.)

    late 14c., "want of cultivation or manners, uncouthness;" c. 1400, "plainness, lack of artistry," from rude (adj.) + -ness. From 1530s, "bad manners." Rudeship (mid-15c.) also was used in the sense of "lack of gentleness, roughness."ETD rudeness (n.).2

    rudesby (n.)

    "insolent person, boisterous fellow," 1560s, a mock surname from rude + -by, common ending element in place-names (and thus surnames), as in Grimsby, Rigby, Catesby. Similar formations in idlesby "lazy fellow" (1610s), sneaksby "paltry, sneaking fellow" (1570s), suresby (16c.), lewdsby (1590s), nimblesby (1610s).ETD rudesby (n.).2

    rudiment (n.)

    1540s, "element or first principle of a science or art," from French rudiment (16c.) or directly from Latin rudimentum "early training, first experience, beginning, first principle," from rudis "unlearned, untrained" (see rude).ETD rudiment (n.).2

    The sense of "anything in an undeveloped state" is by 1560s. Related: Rudiments.ETD rudiment (n.).3

    rudimentary (adj.)

    1819, "undeveloped, elementary;" 1821 as "pertaining to first principles;" see rudiment + -ary. Earlier was rudimental (1590s) "pertaining to or of the nature of rudiments."ETD rudimentary (adj.).2


    masc. proper name, from German Rudolf, from Old High German Hrodulf, literally "fame-wolf," from hruod- "fame, glory" (from Proto-Germanic *hrothi-) + wolf (see wolf (n.)).ETD Rudolph.2


    storm god in Vedic mythology, from Sanskrit Rudrah, according to Klein literally "the howler, roarer," from stem of rudati "weeps, laments, bewails," cognate with Latin rudere "to roar, bellow," Lithuanian rauda "wail, lamentation," Old English reotan "to wail, lament."ETD Rudra.2

    rue (v.)

    Old English hreowan (class II strong verb; past tense hreaw, past participle hrowen), "make (someone) sorry, cause (someone) to grieve, distress, affect with regret," transitive senses now obsolete, from Proto-Germanic *khrewan (which is source also of Old Frisian riowa, Middle Dutch rouwen, Old Dutch hrewan, German reuen "to sadden, cause repentance").ETD rue (v.).2

    It is in part it has been blended with the Old English weak verb hreowian "feel pain or sorrow," and perhaps influenced by Old Norse hryggja "make sad." Both are from Proto-Germanic *khruwjan, all from PIE root *kreue- (2) "to push, strike" (see anacrusis).ETD rue (v.).3

    The meaning "repent of, feel remorse for, feel regret for something or how it happened," is attested by c. 1200; the intransitive sense of "be sorrowful or penitent, experience grief" is recorded from 14c. Related: Rued; ruing.ETD rue (v.).4

    rue (n.1)

    perennial evergreen shrub, native to the Mediterranean and western Asia, used in cooking and highly esteemed in the Middle Ages as a medicine, late 14c., from Old French rue (13c.), earlier rude, from Latin ruta "rue," probably from Greek rhytē, a word of uncertain etymology, originally a Peloponnesian word for the common Greek pēganon, itself probably a Pre-Greek word, and some consider Latin ruta and Greek rhytē rather as common borrowings from a Mediterranean language.ETD rue (n.1).2

    The plant's disagreeable odor and the bitter taste of its leaves led to many punning allusions to rue (n.2.). Related: Rutic; rutaceous.ETD rue (n.1).3

    rue (n.2)

    "sorrow, repentance," Middle English reue, from Old English hreow "grief, repentance, sorrow, regret, penitence," from Proto-Germanic *hrewwo "pain; sadness, regret, repentance," source also of Frisian rou, Middle Dutch rou, Dutch rouw, Old High German (h)riuwa, German reue "sorrow, regret, repentance," nouns from the root of rue (v.).ETD rue (n.2).2

    rue (n.3)

    French for "street," from Vulgar Latin *ruga (source also of Old Italian ruga, Spanish rua "street in a village"), from Latin ruga, properly "a furrow," then in Medieval Latin "a path, street," (see rugae).ETD rue (n.3).2

    rueful (adj.)

    c. 1200, reuful, rewfulle, reowfule, "expressing suffering or sorrow; sad, dreadful" (of news, etc.), also in a now obsolete sense of "merciful, compassionate," from rue (n.2) + -ful. Related: Ruefulness (c. 1200 as "compassion, mercy;" 1580s as "dejection").ETD rueful (adj.).2

    ruefully (adv.)

    c. 1200, reufulliche, reufulike; from c. 1300 as rufully, reufulli; see rueful + -ly (2). The oldest sense, now obsolete, is "pitiably, lamentably." The meaning "mournfully, dolefully, in a sorrowful manner" is from c. 1300.ETD ruefully (adv.).2

    ruffed (adj.)

    1580s, of persons, "wearing a ruff;" by 1610s in animal and bird names, "having a ruff" of feathers, etc., from ruff (n.1). The American ruffed grouse is so called by 1782.ETD ruffed (adj.).2

    ruff (n.1)

    kind of large band or frill, stiffly starched, 1520s, originally in reference to sleeves (of collars, from 1550s), probably a shortened form of ruffle (n.). They were especially common in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Extended to distinctive sets of feathers on the necks of birds from 1690s.ETD ruff (n.1).2

    ruff (v.)

    in cards, "trump when unable to follow suit," 1760, from the card game ruff (see ruff (n.2)). Related: Ruffed; ruffing.ETD ruff (v.).2

    ruff (n.2)

    in card-playing, "act of trumping when a player has no cards of the suit led," by 1856, from ruff (v.) "trump when unable to follow suit" (1760), from the name of the old game of ruff (1580s), from French roffle, earlier romfle (early 15c.), from Italian ronfa, which is perhaps a corruption of trionfo "triumph" (from French; compare trump (n.1)). The old game, a predecessor of whist, was in vogue c. 1590-1630.ETD ruff (n.2).2

    ruffian (n.)

    1530s, "a boisterous, brutal fellow, one ready to commit any crime," from French rufian "a pimp" (15c.), from Italian ruffiano "a pander, pimp," of uncertain origin, perhaps from a Germanic source related to rough (adj.), but Dutch roffiaan, German Ruffian are said to be from French. Whatever its ultimate source, the English meaning of the word might have been influenced by the similarity of the sound to rough. Related: Ruffianly.ETD ruffian (n.).2

    The Romanic words (such as Medieval Latin ruffianus, Provençal rufian, Catalan rufia, Spanish rufian) preserve the sense of "protector or owner of whores," a sense occasionally met in English in 17c. For sense evolution in English, compare bully (n.). Related: Ruffianage; ruffianhood; ruffianism.ETD ruffian (n.).3

    ruffle (n.)

    "ornamental frill of textile material drawn up at one end in gathers or plaits," 1707, from ruffle (v.). The sense of "disturbance, perturbation" is by 1704.ETD ruffle (n.).2

    ruffle (v.)

    early 14c., ruffelen, "to disturb the smoothness or order of," a word of obscure origin. Similar forms are found in Scandinavian (such as Old Norse hrufla "to scratch") and Low German (ruffelen "to wrinkle, curl;" Middle Low German ruffen "to fornicate"), but the exact relation and origin of them is uncertain. Also compare Middle English ruffelen "be at odds with, quarrel, dispute."ETD ruffle (v.).2

    The meaning "disarrange" (hair or feathers) is recorded from late 15c.; the sense of "annoy, vex, distract" is from 1650s. Related: Ruffled; ruffling.ETD ruffle (v.).3

    rufous (adj.)

    "of a dull red color, reddish-brown," 1781, from Latin rufus "red, reddish, tawny, red-haired," from an Osco-Umbrian cognate of Latin ruber "red" (from PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy"). Mostly in names or descriptions of birds or other animals; sometimes frowned upon in early use as just a French word for "reddish." Related: Rufulous.ETD rufous (adj.).2


    masc. proper name, literally "red-haired," from Latin rufus "red, tawny, red-haired" (see rufous).ETD Rufus.2

    rug (n.)

    1550s, "a coarse, heavy, woolen fabric," a word of Scandinavian origin; compare Norwegian dialectal rugga "coarse coverlet," from Old Norse rogg "shaggy tuft," from Proto-Germanic *rawwa-. Perhaps it is related to rag (n.1) and rough (adj.), and compare rugged.ETD rug (n.).2

    The original meaning is obsolete. The sense evolved or expanded to "thick coverlet or lap-robe, heavy woolen wrap" used for various purposes (1590s), then "mat for the floor" (by 1808). The meaning "toupee" is theater slang attested by 1940.ETD rug (n.).3

    To cut a rug "dance" is slang attested by 1942 (rug-cutter "expert dancer" is recorded by 1938). To sweep or brush something under the rug in the figurative sense of "conceal in hopes it won't be noticed or remembered" is by 1954. Figurative expression pull the rug out from under (someone) "suddenly deprive of important support" is from 1936, American English. Earlier in same sense was cut the grass under (one's) feet (1580s).ETD rug (n.).4

    rugged (adj.)

    c. 1300, "having a rough, hairy, or shaggy surface" (originally of animals), a word probably of Scandinavian origin: compare Old Norse rogg "shaggy tuft" (see rug). "The precise relationship to ragged is not quite clear, but the stem is no doubt ultimately the same" [OED]. In Middle English ruggedy (late 14c.) also was used.ETD rugged (adj.).2

    Of ground, "broken, stony," by 1650s. Of made things, "strongly constructed, able to withstand rough use," by 1921. By 1620s, especially of persons or their qualities, as "unsoftened by refinement or cultivation," thence "of a rough but strong or sturdy character" (by 1827). The specific meaning "vigorous, strong, robust, healthy," is American English, attested by 1847.ETD rugged (adj.).3

    Hoover said the phrase was not his own, and it is attested from 1897, though not in a patriotic context. Related: Ruggedly; ruggedness.ETD rugged (adj.).4

    rugae (n.)

    1775, in zoology, anatomy, etc., "a fold or wrinkle," plural of ruga (1775), from Latin ruga "a wrinkle in the face," from Proto-Italic *rouga-, which is of uncertain origin. "Since words for 'wrinkle' and 'crease' are often derived from 'to be rugged', from which also 'to belch' is often derived ..., the most obvious connection is with e-rugere 'to belch'" [de Vaan]. Related: Rugate; rugulose; rugose (1703); rugosity (1590s).ETD rugae (n.).2

    rugby (n.)

    type of football, 1864, from Rugby, name of the public school where the game was played, which is named for its location in the city of Rugby in Warwickshire, central England. The place name is Rocheberie (1086), probably "fortified place of a man called *Hroca;" with second element from Old English burh (dative byrig), replaced by 13c. with Old Norse -by "village" due to the influence of Danish settlers. Otherwise it might be *Rockbury today. Or first element perhaps is Old English hroc "rook."ETD rugby (n.).2

    The Rugby Union was formed in 1871. Slang rugger for "rugby" is by 1893, with -er (1).ETD rugby (n.).3

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