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

3 Answers 3


“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”.

  • you're so eruditely. I've searched some online dicts and still didn't get it.
    – lovespring
    Mar 24, 2011 at 10:12

It means 'runs over' i.e overflows


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.

  • 3
    Not true. The word runneth has a perfectly good meaning on its own, if a little archaic.
    – Chenmunka
    Mar 8, 2016 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. Mar 8, 2016 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. Mar 8, 2016 at 14:28

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