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From Biology-Online Dictionary
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1. Sorrow for the misery of another; pity; tenderness. They weep for ruth. Have ruth of the poor. To stir up gentle ruth, Both for her noble blood, and for her tender youth. (Spenser)

2. That which causes pity or compassion; misery; distress; a pitiful. It had been hard this ruth for to see. (Chaucer) With wretched miseries and woeful ruth. (Spenser)

Origin: From Rue,: cf. Icel. Hryggth, hrygth.