A rut is an impression made on the ground from a heavy object that repeatedly rolls over it. Ruts are usually formed by tires from vehicles such as bicycles, wagons, cars, trucks, tanks, etc.


  • Wagon wheels left ruts in the soft earth as they moved westward.
  • If roads aren’t plowed in the winter, they create ruts from the snow and the ice. This makes driving difficult.
  • In some parts of the world where the weather is dry, ruts can last for years.

When a person is "in a rut," he or she is experiencing an extended period of time when things aren’t going well. Sometimes the person is depressed, unconfident, or just plain unlucky. It’s not easy to get out of a rut.

  • Roger fell into a rut for several months after he lost his job.
  • Carolyn is in a rut. She just got divorced and rarely leaves the house.
  • Antonio used to be a great soccer player, but recently he’s been in a rut and unable to score goals.
  • The U.S. economy was in a rut for a few years. Now it seems to be making a comeback.
  • Tina finally got out of her rut when she found a new job.

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Published April 22, 2013