Ru·​ri·​ta·​ni·​an ˈru̇r-ə-ˌtā-nē-ən How to pronounce Ruritanian (audio)
: 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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1896, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Ruritanian was in 1896


Dictionary Entries Near Ruritanian

Cite this Entry

“Ruritanian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2024.

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