English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is the meaning of “runneth” in My Cup Runneth Over?

share|improve this question
up vote 10 down vote accepted

“runneth” is the Early Modern English third person singular of “run” (suffix -th, written -eth after consonants, and the consonant doubled). So, it would be “runs over” in Modern English, i.e. “overflows”. As noted in the link in your question, this quotation means “I have more than I need”.

share|improve this answer
    
you're so eruditely. I've searched some online dicts and still didn't get it. – lovespring Mar 24 '11 at 10:12

It means 'runs over' i.e overflows

share|improve this answer

In the context, ‘runneth’ has no meaning as a word on its own, since it is simply the verb component of the phrasal verb ‘runneth over’. Phrasal verbs are constructions formed of verb plus adverb (and/or preposition) which, together, convey a meaning other than is derived from the individual components on their own.

‘Runneth over’, is a phrase perhaps most well-known in the King James, or Authorised, translation of Psalm 23:5 in the Bible. Its modern-day equivalent phrasal verb would be ‘runs over’ describing the way that fluid spills out of its container when the container is being overfilled. Modern-day translations of Psalm 23:5 commonly use the verb ‘overflows’, to convey the same meaning which is intended to describe an abundance, or excess, of provision.

share|improve this answer
3  
Not true. The word runneth has a perfectly good meaning on its own, if a little archaic. – Chenmunka Mar 8 at 13:21
    
It's best to back up your information with sources/citations, they give your answer more weight and make it more useful. – SuperBiasedMan Mar 8 at 14:21
    
Forgive me: my opening sentence states, that ‘In the context “runneth” has no meaning on its own . . .’. And I'll stick by this, as the question was ‘What is the meaning of “runneth” in “My cup runneth over”’ (italics mine). I would agree with you however, Chenmunka, that ‘runneth’ on its own does have meaning, if archaic. It's just that in context its use is part of a phrasal verb, so it's not on its own. – Timatopotown Mar 8 at 14:28

protected by Rathony Mar 8 at 13:07

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.