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Believed to have been formed (with uncertainty, due to the unusual formation) as re- +‎ pine, with the verb giving rise to the noun (first attested in 1529 and 1593 respectively); compare the Middle English verb repinen ((uncertain) to cause trouble to someone, grieve)[1] (from pīnen (to cause pain, grieve, hurt, trouble; to starve, pine; to torment, torture), from Old English pīnian),[2] which may be related.



repine (third-person singular simple present repines, present participle repining, simple past and past participle repined)

  1. (transitive) To fail; to wane.
  2. (intransitive, now literary) To complain; to regret. [from early 16th c.]
    • 1577, Meredith Hanmer, transl., “Constantinus the Emperour Summoneth the Nicene Councell, it was Held at Nicæa a Citie of Bythnia for the Debatinge of the Controuersie about the Feast of Easter, and the Rootinge out of the Heresie of Arius”, in The Avncient Ecclesiasticall Histories of the First Six Hundred Yeares after Christ, [], book I (The First Booke of the Ecclesiasticall Historye of Socrates Scholasticvs), imprinted at London: By Thomas Vautroullier [], translation of original by Socrates Scholasticus [i.e., Socrates of Constantinople], OCLC 55193813, page 225:
      [VV]e are able with playne demonſtration to proue, and vvith reaſon to perſvvade that in tymes paſt our fayth vvas alike, that then vve preached thinges correſpondent vnto the forme of faith already published of vs, ſo that none in this behalfe can repyne or gaynesay vs.
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “Against Envy, Livor, Emulation, Hatred, Ambition, Selfe-loue, and All Other Affections”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970, partition 2, section 3, member 6:
      But many times we complaine, repine, and mutter without cauſe, wee giue way to paſſions, we may reſiſt and will not.
    • a. 1667, Jeremy Taylor, “A Prayer for a Woman who has Lost Her Husband”, in A Collection of Offices, or Forms of prayer in cases ordinary and extraordinary, 2nd edition, published 1690, page 172:
      O my gracious Lord, doe to me what seemeth good in thy own eyes; I am like clay in the hands of the potter, and what am I that I should repine against the acts of thy providence and dispensation? Behold O God, thy Handmaid is but a worm before thee; shall dust and ashes repine against God?
    • 1671, John Milton, “Samson Agonistes, []”, in Paradise Regain’d. A Poem. In IV Books. To which is Added, Samson Agonistes, London: [] J. M[acock] for John Starkey [], OCLC 228732398, lines 992–997, page 61:
      Nor ſhall I count it hainous to enjoy / The public marks of honour and reward / Conferr'd upon me, for the piety / Which to my countrey I was judg'd to have ſhewn. / At this whoever envies or repines / I leave him to his lot, and like my own.
    • 1729, William Law, chapter XXII, in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. Adapted to the State and Condition of All Orders of Christians, London: Printed for William Innys, [], OCLC 433148097, page 447:
      Whoſo repines at ſeaſons and weather, and ſpeaks impatiently of times and events, repines and ſpeakth impatiently of God, who is the ſole Lord and Governor of times, ſeaſons, and events.
    • 1733, [Alexander Pope], An Essay on Man. [], epistle I, London: Printed for J[ohn] Wilford, [], OCLC 960856019, lines 248–251, page 15:
      What if the Foot, ordain'd the duſt to tread, / Or Hand, to toil, aſpir'd to be the Head? / What if the Head, the Eye, or Ear repin'd / To ſerve mere Engines to the ruling Mind?
    • 1958, John W. Peterson (lyrics and music), “Night of Miracles”, Minneapolis, Minn.: Better Choirs, OCLC 860310781:
      [N]o more need men on earth repine
    • 1989, Anthony Burgess, “Dau”, in Any Old Iron, London: Hutchinson, →ISBN; republished New York, N.Y.: Washington Square Press, Pocket Books, 1990, →ISBN, page 84:
      Beatrix invited me no more to tea but I did not greatly repine.


Alternative forms[edit]

  • repyne (obsolete, 16th century)

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ repīnen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 3 March 2018.
  2. ^ pīnen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 3 March 2018.