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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. (intransitive, now literary) To complain; to regret; to fret. [from early 16th c.]
    • 1577, “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 Meredith Hanmer, transl., 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, 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, 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, page 61, lines 992–997:
      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, 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, page 15, lines 248–251:
      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:
      [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 October, →ISBN, page 84:
      Beatrix invited me no more to tea but I did not greatly repine.
  2. (intransitive, with for, now literary) To long for (something) discontentedly. [from 17th c.]
    • 1742 (date written), [Thomas] Gray, “Sonnet on the Death of Mr. Richard West”, in The Poems of Mr. Gray. [], York, Yorkshire: [] A. Ward; and sold by J[ames] Dodsley, []; and J. Todd, [], published 1775, →OCLC, page 60:
      Theſe ears, alas! for other notes repine, / A different object do theſe eyes require.
    • 1827, Henry Hallam, “On the Laws of Elizabeth’s Reign Respecting the Roman Catholics”, in The Constitutional History of England from the Accession of Henry VII. to the Death of George II. [], volume I, London: John Murray, [], →OCLC, page 165:
      But the oath supremacy was not refused, the worship of the church was frequented by multitudes who secretly repined for a change; []
    • 1899, Herman Bernstein, “David's Lament”, in The Flight of Time, and Other Poems, London, New York: F. Tennyson Neely, page 49:
      Brother Jonathan, distressed is my spirit, / My heart is repining for thee!
    • 1910, Joaquin Miller, Forty-nine: an Idyl Drama of the Sierras (in Four Acts), San Francisco: Whitaker & Ray-Wiggin Co., →OCLC, page 85:
      Yet oft do we repine / For the days of old, / For the days of gold— / For the days of Forty-Nine
    • 1917, W[illiam] S[amuel] Harrison, “Book First”, in The Supremacy of Life, a Poem, Boston: Sherman, French & Company, →OCLC, page 10:
      Each normal life repines for better life; []
  3. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) (transitive, obsolete) To fail; to wane.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, “Book I, Canto II”, in The Faerie Queene. [], London: [] [John Wolfe] for William Ponsonbie, →OCLC, stanza XVII, pages 23–24:
      The Sarazin ſore daunted with the buffe / Snatcheth his ſword, and fiercely to him flies; / Who well it wards, and quyteth cuff with cuff: / Each others equall puiſſaunce enuies, / And through their iron ſides with cruelties / Does ſeeke to perce: repining courage yields / No foote to foe.


Alternative forms[edit]

  • (obsolete, 16th century) repyne

Derived terms[edit]



repine (plural repines)

  1. (obsolete, now rare) A repining.
    • 1593, [William Shakespeare], Venus and Adonis, London: [] Richard Field, [], →OCLC; Shakespeare’s Venus & Adonis: [], 4th edition, London: J[oseph] M[alaby] Dent and Co. [], 1896, →OCLC, verse 82, page 30, lines 487–490:
      Whose beams upon his hairless face are fix’d / As if from thence they borrowed all their shine. / Were never four such lamps together mix’d, / Had not his clouded with his brow’s repine; []
      The spelling has been modernized.
    • c. 1600, Joseph Hall, “Book II”, in Satires, Chiswick: Printed for C[harles] Whittingham, [] , published 1824, →OCLC, Satire II, page 30:
      And ye, fair heaps, the Muses’ sacred shrines, / (In spite of time and envious repines) / Stand still and flourish till the world’s last day, / Upbraiding it with former love’s decay.
    • 1979, Ronald A. Brauner, Jewish civilization: essays and studies[1], volume 1, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, page 112:
      It would, therefore, be criminal negligence did we not embrace this chance to proclaim broadcast, through such men as by their learning, their repines of judgment, their character and their works, will command general recognition and attention


  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.

Further reading[edit]