verb (used with object)

to destroy the self-confidence, poise, or self-possession of; disconcert; make ashamed or embarrassed: to abash someone by sneering.


Origin of abash

1275–1325; Middle English abaishen < dialectal Old French abacher, Old French abaissier to put down, bring low (see abase), perhaps conflated with Anglo-French abaiss-, long stem of abair, Old French esba(h)ir to gape, marvel, amaze (es- ex-1 + -ba(h)ir, alteration of baer to open wide, gape < Vulgar Latin *batāre; cf. bay2, bay3)
Related formsa·bash·ment, noun

Synonyms for abash

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for abash

Historical Examples of abash

  • It would have been useless; nothing could alter or abash her inherent unmorality.

    Olive in Italy

    Moray Dalton

  • “She striveth alway to abash (frighten) and trouble me,” sighed Maude.

  • It is impossible to outface Milton, or to abash him with praise.


    Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh

  • "Nothing in the world can abash me now," I thought as I wandered carelessly about the salon.


    Leo Tolstoy

  • The presence of the strangers did not abash her in the least.


    Alphonse Daudet

British Dictionary definitions for abash



(tr; usually passive) to cause to feel ill at ease, embarrassed, or confused; make ashamed
Derived Formsabashment, noun

Word Origin for abash

C14: via Norman French from Old French esbair to be astonished, from es- out + bair to gape, yawn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for abash

"perplex, embarrass," early 15c., earlier "lose one's composure, be upset" (late 14c.), from Old French esbaiss-, present stem of esbaer "gape with astonishment," from es "out" (see ex-) + ba(y)er "to be open, gape," from Latin *batare "to yawn, gape," from root *bat, possibly imitative of yawning. Related: Abashed; abashing. Bashful is a 16c. derivative.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper