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May
30
comment What is the meaning and etymology of “ruthless?”
The Bible doesn't say anything about Ruth being kind or attentive. It says that she declared that she would follow Naomi anywhere she went. Compassion, pity, kindness, and attention are all subject to interpretation, as is the question of whether or not she would have been hated and whether the social environment would have been hostile. At least in Hebrew, her name is definitely not synonymous with kindness, and most native Hebrew speakers will tell you that they don't know the origin of the word. They will not associate it with compassion.
May
30
comment What is the meaning and etymology of “ruthless?”
Well, the Bible was written/composed/handed down a few thousand years ago. The split between Semitic and Germanic languages occurred probably more than 4000 years before that, possibly as much as 20000 years earlier. It's possible but highly unlikely that the word "jumped over" from one language group to another. Also, whether Ruth showed compassion or behaved from some other motive is a question of interpretation, and not directly indicated in the text itself, which does not actually use any of the Hebrew words for compassion.
May
30
comment What is the meaning and etymology of “ruthless?”
Also, I minor correction: reuth in Hebrew does not mean "female companion". It means companionship, irrespective of sex or gender, even though the word itself is female, simply because all nouns in Hebrew have gender. The word has contractions for both a female companion and a male companion, and is used today more in the sense of friendship.
May
30
comment What is the meaning and etymology of “ruthless?”
I find it unlikely (though possible) that Ruth in Hebrew derives from Reuth, because it doesn't follow the usual contraction rules. It's hard to know for sure because the words are so old, but a (possibly) more likely derivation for Ruth in Hebrew connects it to Ruts, which means run, distancing it even more from the Germanic-rooted ruth. My source is in Hebrew: hebrewetymology.com.
Sep
17
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