What does “ruddy” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

The King James Bible uses “ruddy” in four verses, which we now read before explaining any definitions:

  • 1 Samuel 16:12: “And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.”
  • 1 Samuel 17:42: “And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.”
  • Song of Solomon 5:10: “My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.”
  • Lamentations 4:7: “Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire:….”

Upon a cursory examination, we can gather “ruddy” concerns outward appearance. One clue is that it contributed to David’s good looks (see the two Samuel verses above). Another hint is in Lamentations, for “ruddy” is here linked to rubies. Of course, the very sound of the word removes any lingering doubts as to its meaning. “Ruddy” sounds like “red,” and, that is no coincidence, for “rud” is Old English for “red color.” Instead of a pale, white, or bluish complexion (as in a sickly or dying individual); a ruddy or rosy red face indicates health, or flowing red blood and sufficient oxygen supplied to skin cells. Of course, bright red is not desirable! As for David, the adjective may be descriptive of his hair color as opposed to skin color.

Also see:
» What is “the hoary head” in the Bible?
» Is it sinful for women to wear makeup?
» What is “shamefacedness?”