In a word: repine

The Baltimore Sun

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word:


We can regret, we can fret, we can yearn, we can repine.

To repine (pronounced ruh-PINE) is to be in low spirits generally, complaining or fretting. It can also mean to yearn for something.

It is a venerable English word, from the Middle English repinen, “to be aggrieved,” and the Old English pinian, “to cause to suffer.” Pinen is also the root of the verb pine, “to waste away from longing.”

You may have heard Orlando Gibbons’s “Do not repine, fair sun.” Or you may recall the widower Mr. Pecksniff: “ ‘Do not repine, my friends,’ said Mr. Pecksniff, tenderly. ‘Do not weep for me. It is chronic.’ ” Or Jane Eyre saying, “I wonder at the goodness of God; the generosity of my friends; the bounty of my lot. I do not repine.”

So don’t.

Example: In an interview with Barbara Walter on “20/20” in 1999, Hugh Downs remarked on aging: “If I get so I can’t get on a horse or scuba dive or something, there’s a lot of music to listen to, and there’s a lot of reading to do. So I—I don’t think I would repine about that, but I do have a slight dread of a kind of deterioration that I would not want to live with, the shipwreck of old age.”

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