Word Confusion: Roué vs Roux vs Rue

Posted August 13, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

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Revised as of 8 October 2017

I was looking for recipes to use with spinach and ran across “Try a box of beef broth, thicken it with a rue, add premade meatballs”. I couldn’t figure out why I’d want to use rue. It’s an herb. I don’t know much about the herb rue, but I hadn’t been aware that it could be used as a thickener. That’s when the light dawned. Duh…she meant roux.

I gotta say, I’m not too impressed with someone’s cooking abilities if they don’t even know how to spell roux. If someone is going to be pretentious about cooking, at least learn how to spell the words one plans to use. I’ll be more inclined to think they know what they’re talking about.

Word Confusions started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Roué Roux Rue
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Your Dictionary.com: rue; Oxford Dictionaries


“Juliette, or Vice Amply Rewarded” by the Marquis de Sade, and courtesy of the AMEA, is in the public domain and was uploaded by AxelBoldt, via Wikimedia Commons

The Marquis de Sade is an extreme example of a roué.

Pan of a cream sauce with a whisk resting in it

“Thickening” is Oskila’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

A roux-based sauce with chicken stock, white wine, and cream.

Closeup of a rue anemone

Thalictrum thalictroides” by Hagerty Ryan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (and courtesy of Pixnio) is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Rue anemone.

Part of Grammar:
Plural: roués
Plural: roux
Adjective; Noun 1, 2

Verb, intransitive & transitive 1

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: rues
Past tense or past participle: rued
Gerund or Present participle: ruing or rueing

A debauched man, especially an elderly one

A man devoted to a life of sensual pleasure


A person given to excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures

A cooked mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour used in thickening sauces, gravies, stews, etc. Adjective:
Designating a family (Rutaceae, order Sapindales) of woody dicotyledonous plants, including the gas plant and the citrus plants

[Archaic] Repentance 1


  • Compassion
  • Pity
  • Sorrow

A perennial evergreen shrub with bitter strong-scented lobed leaves that are used in herbal medicine 2

  • Ruta graveolens, family Rutaceae
  • Used in names of other plants that resemble rue, especially in leaf shape

[French] street (only capitalize it when it begins a sentence)

Verb, intransitive:
To feel regret, remorse, or sorrow

Verb, transitive:
Bitterly regret something one has done or allowed to happen

To feel remorse or repentance for a sin, fault, etc.

To wish an act, promise, etc. undone or unmade


You keep away from that old roué.

Roué is too mild a word for the Marquis de Sade.

He had lived the life of a roué in the fleshpots of London and Paris.

It should yield enough roux to thicken one pint.

A properly cooked roux imparts silky-smooth body and a nutty flavor while thickening soups and sauces.

Gumbo begins with a dark roux ranging in color from brick, peanut butter, and chocolate.

A roux must be cooked long enough to eliminate the floury taste.

The rue family is a family of flowering plants.

“With rue my heart is laden.” – A.E. Houseman

“But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” – Bible

The common rue of history and literature is R. graveolans.

The rue du Fauborg Saint-Honore is renowned for the number of top designers located here.

Rue Cler street market is a fabulous place in Paris to shop for fresh food.

Goat’s-rue can affect a nursing mother’s milk production.
A grouping of meadow rue looks like a cloud of soft pink flowers.
Wall rue is a a delicate fern that grows in rocky crevices and walls.

Verb, intransitive:
“No doing without some ruing.” – Sigrid Undset

“You shall rue in bitter peace.”

“What the eye does not see, the heart does not rue.” – Mary Collyer

Verb, transitive:
Ferguson will rue the day he turned down that offer.

“But I began to rue th’ unhappy sight of that faire boy that had my hart intangled…” – Richard Barnfield

She might live to rue this impetuous decision.

“I never rued a day in my life like the one I rued when I left that old mother of mine.” – Flannery O’Connor

Noun: ruer
History of the Word:
First known use: 1800

Early 19th century French, literally meaning broken on a wheel and referring to the instrument of torture thought to be deserved by such a person.

From the French beurre roux meaning browned (butter). 1 Old English hrēow meaning repentance or hrēowan meaning affect with contrition is of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch rouw meaning mourning and the German Reue meaning remorse.

2 Middle English from the Old French via the Latin ruta from the Greek rhutē, rhytē.

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C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Pinterest Photo Credits

Making a Roux by Daryn Nakhuda from Seattle, US, is under the CC BY 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.