Ru·​ri·​ta·​ni·​an | \ ˈru̇r-ə-ˌtā-nē-ən How to pronounce Ruritanian (audio) , ˌru̇r-ə-ˈtā-\

Definition of Ruritanian

: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an imaginary place of high romance

Did You Know?

In 1894, British author Anthony Hope published The Prisoner of Zenda, a novel set in the mythical kingdom of Ruritania. The book relates the adventures of Rudolf Rassendyll, a British gentleman who impersonates the king of Ruritania to save him from a treasonous plot. An improbable but high-spirited tale filled with heroes, villains, courtly intrigue, romance, and sword play, Hope's narrative (and its fictional locale) quickly captured the imagination of the public. Within two years of the novel's publication, George Bernard Shaw had seen fit to use "Ruritanian" as a generic adjective: "Our common sense ... must immediately put a summary stop to the somewhat silly Ruritanian gambols of our imagination." Romantic or fanciful places or things have been "Ruritanian" ever since.

First Known Use of Ruritanian

1896, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Ruritanian

Ruritania, fictional kingdom in the novel Prisoner of Zenda (1894) by Anthony Hope

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about Ruritanian

Listen to Our Podcast about Ruritanian

Statistics for Ruritanian

Time Traveler for Ruritanian

The first known use of Ruritanian was in 1896

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on Ruritanian

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with Ruritanian

Comments on Ruritanian

What made you want to look up Ruritanian? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a calculated move

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!