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

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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

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The first known use of Ruritanian was in 1896

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Cite this Entry

“Ruritanian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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