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why is ruthless a common word but not ruth? (Read 1562 times)

Offline cwjalex

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why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
« on: January 10, 2015, 03:37:30 AM »
this occurrs to me as particularly strange.  ruth is a word but i have never heard someone use it even though ruthless is a fairly common word.  how can the word for a lack of something be common but the actual word itself is uncommon?  it would be like if nobody ever used the word "heart" but still used the word heartless.  it makes no sense to me.

Offline Bob

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #1 on: January 10, 2015, 03:41:45 AM »
"having or showing no pity or compassion for others."


How about ruthful then? 


Ruth is a word.  Yes, very strange.

"noun
archaic
noun: ruth
a feeling of pity, distress, or grief."


Hm....
[img width=300 http://www.chocablog.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/baby-ruth-1.jpg?c3c2c6[/img]
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline perfect_pitch

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #2 on: January 10, 2015, 03:44:37 AM »
DAMNIT BOB...

I was JUST about to post that no one ever uses the word Ruthful as well...

Perhaps there are more synonyms for Ruth and Ruthful than there are for Ruthless, therefore we seem to use Ruthless more often???



(Just for that Bob - I'll take credit for your picture and post it properly)    ;D


Offline bonesquirrel

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #3 on: January 10, 2015, 03:47:39 AM »
Probably because most people don't even know ruth is a word, but everyone knows what the word ruthless is............. There is your answer

Offline cwjalex

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #4 on: January 10, 2015, 03:56:01 AM »
Probably because most people don't even know ruth is a word, but everyone knows what the word ruthless is............. There is your answer

that's not an answer.  that is just repeating the question.

Offline Bob

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #5 on: January 10, 2015, 04:14:53 AM »
Partial credit to bonesquirrel.  Gets a C or B for sort of, not really even answering the question.  Enough to pass.  Good job!  If you fleshed that out, you could have had a solid B, maybe even an A.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline bonesquirrel

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #6 on: January 10, 2015, 04:28:13 AM »
that's not an answer.  that is just repeating the question.

So the question is "Why don't many people know what the word ruth is"??

Well in that case, its probably because they haven't been taught to use the word regularly. I have never been educated on the word, I haven't even heard the word mentioned in a movie before.

I imagine the reason why this is, is due to the fact that almost everyone uses the word distressed.... I felt a great feeling of distress.... His shouting became very distressing.

Ruth is uncommon for one of the two reasons that all words that are uncommon are uncommon. Because there are much more common and more educated versions of the word (the second reason being that the word is unknown or is rarely used because of the fact that there is unlikely to be a reason to use it). I think it is absolutely the first reason, although maybe a little of the second since the word is obviously unknown and no its not repeating the question again its explaining that the question your apparently asking has already been answered.

Have I answered it yet?

Offline Bob

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #7 on: January 10, 2015, 04:29:44 AM »
Looks complete to me (without actually reading it).  Full credit.  Next paper...
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline bonesquirrel

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #8 on: January 10, 2015, 04:32:36 AM »
Looks complete to me (without actually reading it).  Full credit.  Next paper...


Offline cwjalex

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #9 on: January 10, 2015, 05:47:22 AM »
So the question is "Why don't many people know what the word ruth is"??

Well in that case, its probably because they haven't been taught to use the word regularly. I have never been educated on the word, I haven't even heard the word mentioned in a movie before.

I imagine the reason why this is, is due to the fact that almost everyone uses the word distressed.... I felt a great feeling of distress.... His shouting became very distressing.

Ruth is uncommon for one of the two reasons that all words that are uncommon are uncommon. Because there are much more common and more educated versions of the word (the second reason being that the word is unknown or is rarely used because of the fact that there is unlikely to be a reason to use it). I think it is absolutely the first reason, although maybe a little of the second since the word is obviously unknown and no its not repeating the question again its explaining that the question your apparently asking has already been answered.

Have I answered it yet?

my question is why the word ruth is uncommon while the word ruthless is common.  your initial response:

"because most people don't even know ruth is a word, but everyone knows what the word ruthless is"

is saying the exact same thing as my initial question.  In fact, if you just replace the first word of your statement with "why" it's the very question i am asking.

The word distress isn't the most accurate definition for ruth, especially in the way that we use the word ruthless.  Mercy, pity, or compassion would be better.  One of the reasons you say that ruth is uncommon is because "there are more common versions of the word"  which says nothing but repeats the definition of uncommon.  It's like if you asked me why dwarves are short and i told you because most people are much taller than them.  It doesn't answer the question and just repeats the definition of short.

As far as a word being more educated than another word, what does that even mean? How can a word be educated?  I also don't agree with your theory that "there is unlikely a reason to use the word"  there are countless synonyms for various words which don't need to exist since there are many alternatives, yet they still exist.

Furthermore, it does nothing to answer my initial question.  The question isn't why ruth is an uncommon word, but why ruth fell out of style yet the negation of the word, ruthless, did not fall out of style.  ruth used to be a common word, but like many words, it fell out of style.  it just seems extremely bizarre that it became archaic while the lack of the word, ruthless, did not.  imagine if nobody knew what the word "clue" was even though everyone still used the word clueless.  If people stopped using the word clue, wouldn't they also stop using the word clueless?

Offline outin

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #10 on: January 10, 2015, 09:15:49 AM »
It's an archaic word. It just happens, words simply go out of use for various reasons and new ones replace them. That does not mean that other words derived from it won't stay in use. There's a whole field of science researching this phenomena in language.

In this case, one could also wonder whether the fact that it is also a very common first name has something to do with it...

Offline Bob

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #11 on: January 10, 2015, 04:27:32 PM »
Good job, bonesquirrel.  Feel good about yourself.  Would you like to purchase the 102 class next? :)


There are some words that are odd.  I consider it the edge of the English language.  

I was searching for one... Something has "ful" on the end for one word and another version of that is "less" at the end, but both still mean the same thing.  But I ran across these articles that looked interesting...
http://www.slate.com/blogs/quora/2014/12/04/nonce_words_why_does_english_have_so_many_obscure_words.html
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/weird-and-wonderful-words


Enough argle-bargle....

*Bob didn't think "apple knocker" meant what it does at first.*

Here's one...
flammable and inflammable     They mean the same thing.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline cwjalex

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #12 on: January 10, 2015, 08:13:08 PM »
That does not mean that other words derived from it won't stay in use.

it's not really even a derivative of the word ruth.  it's the complete word with it's actual meaning only with the addition of the suffix "less".  can you think of another example like this? i thought of "uncouth" and "couth" but i don't think it's a great example because the word uncouth isn't even used that often.  can you think of a word as common as ruthless where it has a complete word in it that is so uncommon that many people do not know it exists?

i was watching a documentary on atila the hun and the opening said he was ruthless, which prompted me to think about this.

Offline j_menz

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #13 on: January 10, 2015, 11:09:27 PM »
i don't think it's a great example because the word uncouth isn't even used that often. 

It is if you're not.

Feckless, nonpareil.......
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline cwjalex

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #14 on: January 10, 2015, 11:39:30 PM »
It is if you're not.

Feckless, nonpareil.......

i wouldn't consider feckless or nonpareil as common as the word ruthless.  i have only heard nonpareil when associated with capers and i've never heard someone used the word feckless.

Offline j_menz

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #15 on: January 11, 2015, 12:59:44 AM »
i wouldn't consider feckless or nonpareil as common as the word ruthless.  i have only heard nonpareil when associated with capers and i've never heard someone used the word feckless.

You need to hang out with a better crowd.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline bonesquirrel

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #16 on: January 11, 2015, 04:00:06 AM »

The word distress isn't the most accurate definition for ruth, especially in the way that we use the word ruthless.  Mercy, pity, or compassion would be better.

"there are more common versions of the word"  which says nothing but repeats the definition of uncommon.  It's like if you asked me why dwarves are short and i told you because most people are much taller than them.  It doesn't answer the question and just repeats the definition of short.

As far as a word being more educated than another word, what does that even mean?

I also don't agree with your theory that "there is unlikely a reason to use the word"  there are countless synonyms for various words which don't need to exist since there are many alternatives, yet they still exist.

The question isn't why ruth is an uncommon word, but why ruth fell out of style yet the negation of the word, ruthless, did not fall out of style.  

ruth used to be a common word, but like many words, it fell out of style. imagine if nobody knew what the word "clue" was even though everyone still used the word clueless.  If people stopped using the word clue, wouldn't they also stop using the word clueless?


1 - Ok? Its still a valid definition, just as valid as any other definition for ruth. Even so, this doesn't make what I said invalid, if you want me too I can use another word that defines ruth and use the same principle.

2 - No it doesn't repeat the definition of uncommon, I said that "There are other versions of the same word" not "There are other words in the dictionary that are used more". I'm still on the topic of the word I'm not saying how uncommon the word is I'm explaining why its uncommon.

3 - Hmmmmmmmmm............ What could he mean when he says a word is taught more or less than other words...... (Btw I didn't say it was taught less, I said it wasn't taught at all, if you actually read it)

4 - What the hell are you talking about??!! I think you completely missed my point. I said that one of the reasons a word is not used much is because the is really a situation where the word need to be used..... How many times have you said or used the word yarborough? It means a hand of cards containing no card above a nine..... That is all I meant

5 - Alright..... So the question is why ruth became uncommon while ruthless stayed common... So, whats your point? If your saying "Oh why did this word that is so similar to another common word stop being used", then you'll get the same answer

6 - So if there were "many words" then why are you using ruth specifically, whats your point that your trying to make about how its so unbelievable that ruth isn't used. An no. the thing your trying to do with the word 'clue' and 'clueless' doesnt make your point any better. Clueless is when you have no understanding (clue) about something, an clue isnt used in the same context. When you find something at a crime scene then its a clue, but when you have knowledge about something you don't say "I have a pretty good clue on how to drive a car". The closest you can come is when you say inform someone of something, like "Steve clued him in about how to use a car", which isn't commonly used anyway.

The problem we have here is that the word 'clue' is used all the time because there is commonly a compelling reason to use the word clue. You might say "Oh but there is commonly a compelling reason to use the word ruth". Ok.... Yes there is, but like I said, there are so many alternating ways to get the same message threw, that the word ruth just got lost in the crowd. About the only way to alternate on clue at a crime scene would be "I found a piece of evidence" or "I got something here". So clue isn't exactly getting lost any time soon.


Offline outin

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #17 on: January 11, 2015, 05:39:52 AM »
it's not really even a derivative of the word ruth.  it's the complete word with it's actual meaning only with the addition of the suffix "less".  can you think of another example like this?

Not right now. The fact that it doesn't happen often doesn't make it strange to me at all. Maybe because it's a quite common phenomena in my own language. We have plenty of words like that.

Offline kevin69

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #18 on: January 11, 2015, 07:09:06 AM »
Ruthless has the same roots as the words rue and rueful.
Rueful is a reasonably common word, so ruthless has some related words that are almost as common even if ruth is now pretty obscure.

Offline cwjalex

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #19 on: January 11, 2015, 10:28:28 AM »
@ bonesquirrel

1) it may be a valid definition but it's not really the definition that is the most common and most accurate to the meaning of the way people use ruthless

2) yes it is repeating the definition of uncommon.  you said there are more "common words that are used more"  duh that's why the word is UNCOMMON.

3) you didn't say that.  you said the word was "educated". a word can't be educated, people are educated.  learn to express your thoughts more clearly.

4)this makes no sense.  you use an example of a word that has very limited use but we are talking about a word that has many uses.

5)maybe you need to re-read my posts if you don't understand.  you seriously don't find anything bizarre about the negation or lack of a word being common but the actual word itself uncommon?

6)when you understand no.5 it will answer your confusion with no.6

Offline cwjalex

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #20 on: January 11, 2015, 10:30:38 AM »
1 - Ok? Its still a valid definition, just as valid as any other definition for ruth. Even so, this doesn't make what I said invalid, if you want me too I can use another word that defines ruth and use the same principle.

2 - No it doesn't repeat the definition of uncommon, I said that "There are other versions of the same word" not "There are other words in the dictionary that are used more". I'm still on the topic of the word I'm not saying how uncommon the word is I'm explaining why its uncommon.

3 - Hmmmmmmmmm............ What could he mean when he says a word is taught more or less than other words...... (Btw I didn't say it was taught less, I said it wasn't taught at all, if you actually read it)

4 - What the hell are you talking about??!! I think you completely missed my point. I said that one of the reasons a word is not used much is because the is really a situation where the word need to be used..... How many times have you said or used the word yarborough? It means a hand of cards containing no card above a nine..... That is all I meant

5 - Alright..... So the question is why ruth became uncommon while ruthless stayed common... So, whats your point? If your saying "Oh why did this word that is so similar to another common word stop being used", then you'll get the same answer

6 - So if there were "many words" then why are you using ruth specifically, whats your point that your trying to make about how its so unbelievable that ruth isn't used. An no. the thing your trying to do with the word 'clue' and 'clueless' doesnt make your point any better. Clueless is when you have no understanding (clue) about something, an clue isnt used in the same context. When you find something at a crime scene then its a clue, but when you have knowledge about something you don't say "I have a pretty good clue on how to drive a car". The closest you can come is when you say inform someone of something, like "Steve clued him in about how to use a car", which isn't commonly used anyway.

The problem we have here is that the word 'clue' is used all the time because there is commonly a compelling reason to use the word clue. You might say "Oh but there is commonly a compelling reason to use the word ruth". Ok.... Yes there is, but like I said, there are so many alternating ways to get the same message threw, that the word ruth just got lost in the crowd. About the only way to alternate on clue at a crime scene would be "I found a piece of evidence" or "I got something here". So clue isn't exactly getting lost any time soon.



@ bonesquirrel

1) it may be a valid definition but it's not really the definition that is the most common and most accurate to the meaning of the way people use ruthless.  you are right, it doesn't make your point invalid.  your point is invalid because just because there are more common ways to express a thought does not mean the word will fade into obscurity.  i'm sure you can think of many examples of this.

2) there can easily be confusion since your own words are not clear.  u said that "words are uncommon because there are more common versions of the word".  can you see how circular that statement is? not only circular but it's also vague and ambiguous.  

3) you didn't say that.  you said the word was "educated". a word can't be educated, people are educated.  since your statement didn't make sense i could interpret it as the word is taught more or people who are more educated use the word more.  learn to express your thoughts more clearly.

4)this makes no sense.  you use an example of a word that has very limited use but we are talking about a word that has many uses.  you are saying there aren't many situations to use the word mercy, pity, or compassion? your point in no.4 is not relevant at all to the word ruth, since it has many uses.  

5)maybe you need to re-read my posts if you don't understand.  you seriously don't find anything bizarre about the negation or lack of a word being common but the actual word itself uncommon?

6)when you understand no.5 it will answer your confusion with no.6.  your whole argument with the word clue is poor and based entirely on speculation.  "i have a pretty good clue on how to drive a car" is totally valid.  there are many alternative ways to get around using the word clue. what about using the word cue, indication, lead, suggestion, inkling, pointer, key or sign?  even though i disagree with you, for the sake of argument let's say you are right and clue and clueless are not used in the same context.  what about the hundreds of other "less" words that are used?  what about my earlier example of heart and heartless?  like i said before can you think of another common "less" word where the actual word itself is so uncommon that many people do not know it's a word.  

what you are suggesting is words go out of style because there are many other ways to get the same point across.  i don't think this has much to do with it as simply the passage of time.  language is constantly changing and older words tend to go out of style and become archaic while newer ones remain.  in a few hundred years the word clue may go out of style but i don't think it has much to do with the ability to express the meaning, but rather newer words being introduced that also have the same meaning.

@Kevin  interesting points but i wouldn't say rueful is anywhere near as common as ruthless, at least here in east coast usa.  a lot of people here probably don't even know rueful is a word.  also  it doesn't contain the complete word ruth and it's meaning

Offline bonesquirrel

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #21 on: January 11, 2015, 11:31:01 AM »

1) it may be a valid definition but it's not really the definition that is the most common and most accurate to the meaning of the way people use ruthless.  you are right, it doesn't make your point invalid.  your point is invalid because just because there are more common ways to express a thought does not mean the word will fade into obscurity.  i'm sure you can think of many examples of this.

2) there can easily be confusion since your own words are not clear.  u said that "words are uncommon because there are more common versions of the word".  can you see how circular that statement is? not only circular but it's also vague and ambiguous.  

3) you didn't say that.  you said the word was "educated". a word can't be educated, people are educated.  since your statement didn't make sense i could interpret it as the word is taught more or people who are more educated use the word more.  learn to express your thoughts more clearly.

4)this makes no sense.  you use an example of a word that has very limited use but we are talking about a word that has many uses.  you are saying there aren't many situations to use the word mercy, pity, or compassion? your point in no.4 is not relevant at all to the word ruth, since it has many uses.  

5)maybe you need to re-read my posts if you don't understand.  you seriously don't find anything bizarre about the negation or lack of a word being common but the actual word itself uncommon?

6)when you understand no.5 it will answer your confusion with no.6.  your whole argument with the word clue is poor and based entirely on speculation.  "i have a pretty good clue on how to drive a car" is totally valid.  there are many alternating ways to get around using the word clue. what about using the word cue, indication, lead, suggestion, inkling, pointer, key or sign?  even though i disagree with you, for the sake of argument let's say you are right and clue and clueless are not used in the same context.  what about the hundreds of other "less" words that are used?  what about my earlier example of heart and heartless?  like i said before can you think of another common "less" word where the actual word itself is so uncommon that many people do not know it's a word.  

what you are suggesting is words go out of style because there are many other ways to get the same point across.  i don't think this has much to do with it as simply the passage of time.  language is constantly changing and older words tend to go out of style and become archaic while newer ones remain.  in a few hundred years the word clue may go out of style but i don't think it has much to do with the inability to express the meaning, but rather newer words being introduced that also have the same meaning.


1 - We can dismiss this

2 - Ok, so I confused my point, now is correct. Dismissed

3 - Ok sorry. Dismissed

4 - I was actually just explaining to you what I meant when I said "There is rarely a situation to use a word".... Not that ruth fitted into this category of there being rarely a situation to use it, I said that from the very beginning!! Dismissed

5 - No... I don't

6 - Ok, I have my theory, you have yours. What Im struggling to understand here is..... Why are you even asking the question if you already have the answer?? Basically your making a thread that unless people reply with the answer you think is true, they are incorrect... Why are you asking about something 1 minute, then admitting that you have the answer only replies later?

Offline cwjalex

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #22 on: January 11, 2015, 11:36:01 AM »
because i don't have the answer.  i know why words become archaic.  i guess a more succinct question would be why ruthless has not become archaic.  if you don't find anything strange about ruthless being common and ruth being archaic can you give me another example of this?

Offline ronde_des_sylphes

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #23 on: January 11, 2015, 01:52:24 PM »
can you think of a word as common as ruthless where it has a complete word in it that is so uncommon that many people do not know it exists?


Disgruntled.

Offline Bob

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #24 on: January 11, 2015, 04:36:56 PM »
There should be a term for the phenomena.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline cwjalex

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #25 on: January 11, 2015, 07:15:43 PM »
http://www.esmerel.com/circle/wordlore/gruntled.html

i guess "disgruntled" was actually created first and then "gruntled" was created afterwards because people assumed that disgruntled was the negative version of gruntled.  In this way i suppose it's not quite the same as ruth and ruthless but it is still a good example.  I haven't found a name for this phenomena but there is a name for the disgruntled example, back formation, because gruntled was created after disgruntled. 

the website i linked only has about 4 examples so it can't be that common of a phenomena. 

Offline kevin69

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Re: why is ruthless a common word but not ruth?
«Reply #26 on: January 12, 2015, 12:00:49 PM »
I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.
― P.G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters