Ruth Name Meaning & Origin


Pronunciation: ROOTH (key)

Origin of the name Ruth:

Of uncertain etymology, most believe Ruth to be derived from the Hebrew rūth, a possible contraction of rē'ūth (companion, friend). The name is borne in the Bible by a Moabite woman who was devoted to her mother-in-law. Her story is told in the Book of Ruth.

From A World of Baby Names by Teresa Norman.

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Comments and insights on the name Ruth: | Edit

From a Hebrew name which was derived from the Hebrew word רְעוּת (re'ut) meaning "friend". This is the name of the central character in the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament, a Moabite woman who was the ancestor of King David. As a Christian name, Ruth has been in use since the Protestant Reformation. It became very popular in America following the birth of "Baby" Ruth Cleveland (1891-1904), the daughter of President Grover Cleveland.
Ruth was a Moabitess, who married into the Hebrew family of Elimelech and Naomi, whom she met when they left Bethlehem and relocated to Moab due to a famine. Elimelech and his two sons died leaving Naomi and her two daughters-in-law as widows.
Naomi, a covenant daughter of Abraham reduced to nothing in a foreign pagan land, attempting to get back home. She is joined by a faithful and loyal companion, namely Ruth the Moabitess, who refuses to leave her side and is committed to following Naomi's God. Ruth famously vowed to follow Naomi in the following passage:
And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. (Ruth 1:16-17, KJV)

She proved herself brave, intelligent, obedient, and generous to her first mother-in-law.

ARIANTS: Rut (German), Rut (Swedish), Rut (Spanish)
DIMINUTIVES: Ruthie, Rue (English)
OTHER LANGUAGES: Routh (Biblical Greek), Rut (Biblical Hebrew), Ruut (Finnish), Rut (Hebrew), Rut (Icelandic), Rut (Italian), Rūta (Lithuanian), Ruta (Polish), Rute (Portuguese), Ruf (Russian)

It is transcendent and ecumenical to have a name esteemed by Jews, Catholics and Protestants.

Personal experiences with the name Ruth: | Edit

Ruth is a very popular name among Christians in the USA, but when I was studying French in Europe, one of my teachers advised me (knowing I was a Gentile) never to name a child Ruth b/c everyone would think she was Jewish. That would not particularly bother me anyway, and when I moved on to French West Africa, I found that Ruth was very popular in the churches. (I ended up naming one of my daughters Ruthanne, actually).

My name's Ruth and I'm a raised-Welsh (from a Catholic family) who became French looong ago :-)
It is true that only Jewish French name their children Ruth (a strong use in families from an Ashkenaze origin), and that's why the teacher have told the previous contributor about this automatic "her name's Ruth = she's Jewish" sort of formula in France.
But the main reason is a not really nice homonyme that exists in French language (aka French pronounciation) for Ruth: the "th" sound doesn't exist in French (and it seems it is almost impossible for native French speakers to pronounce it correctly!), so "Ruth" is actually "Rut" which also means in French "the state for mammalian females during the matting season, the rutting season"!! And, well, this is not sweet nor quite nice at all...
In my case, all relatives use Ruthie, but pronounced "Russie", as Russia (the name of the country) in French... still because of the difficulties with the "th" prononciation. Some people even call me "Thie", as a nickname for Ruthie but pronounced "Sssssie", which I quite like too.
I love my name in any non-French context, especially because of a certain old-fashioned sort of Edwardian touch, or Fifties touch, that it evokes. But being a French Ruth, in French, can be sometimes a bit tricky...

My name is Ruth and when I visited in Texas in the 1980's and was introduced to someone he automatically responded, "oh you must be Jewish."

I have always loved being a Ruth. When I was a kid in the 80's, I was the only Ruth in any of my classes. Even though it was an "old fashioned" name, Ruthie was (and is) a great nickname to have. I also loved that my name was unusual but easy to spell and hard to mispronounce. Now if only I can bless my children with similarly unique yet familiar names.

Nicknames for Ruth: | Edit

Roo/Rue, Ruthie, Ruthless, Ruthster, Dr. Ruth, Rufus

Meanings and history of the name Ruth: | Edit

From Hebrew, meaning "mercy".

Famous real-life people named Ruth: | Edit

Ruth "Bette" Elizabeth Davis, actress
in the Old Testament's Book of Ruth, Ruth was a faithful daughter-in-law of Naomi. Ruth 1:16 says 'But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God."' Ruth's son was part of the lineage of Christ.
Ruth Westheimer, known as "Dr. Ruth", media personality and sex therapist
Ruth Chatterton, actress
Ruth Roman, actress
Ruth Gordon, author and actress
Ruth Graham, writer and wife of evangelist Billy Graham
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, writer
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice
Ruthie Henshall, actress, singer and dancer.

Ruth in song, story & screen: | Edit

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton, a Oprah Book Club pick
Ruth Jamison, beautiful gentle character in Fannie Flagg's book (and later film) "Fried Green Tomatoes".
In Arthur Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons" series of books for young adults, a tough, clever, adventurous girl named Ruth hates her name and goes by Nancy instead - because Amazon pirates are supposed to be "ruthless."
Ruth McDougal, name of a 6th grade girl Arnold had a crush on in the 90's cartoon series "Hey Arnold"
Ruth "Ruthie" Camden, character on the TV show "7th Heaven", named after the Ruth in the Bible as well as her fraternal grandmother who is also named Ruth Camden.
Ruth (Ruthie), narrator and main character in Marilynne Robinson's 'Housekeeping' (novel and film by Bill Forsyth starring Christine Lahti),
Ruth Winters character in the TV show Casualty. Ruth is the girlfriend of Jay Faldren.
Ruth Aldine, Blindfold in the X-Men comics
Ruth Bat-Seraph, Sabra from the X-Men comics

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