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embarrass

[em-bar-uh s]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to cause confusion and shame to; make uncomfortably self-conscious; disconcert; abash: His bad table manners embarrassed her.
  2. to make difficult or intricate, as a question or problem; complicate.
  3. to put obstacles or difficulties in the way of; impede: The motion was advanced in order to embarrass the progress of the bill.
  4. to beset with financial difficulties; burden with debt: The decline in sales embarrassed the company.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to become disconcerted, abashed, or confused.
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Origin of embarrass

1665–75; < French embarrasser < Spanish embarazar < Portuguese embaraçar, equivalent to em- em-1 + -baraçar, verbal derivative of baraço, baraça cord, strap, noose (of obscure origin)
Related formsem·bar·rassed·ly [em-bar-uh st-lee, -uh-sid-lee] /ɛmˈbær əst li, -ə sɪd li/, adverbem·bar·rass·ing·ly, adverbpre·em·bar·rass, verb (used with object)un·em·bar·rassed, adjective

Synonyms

See more synonyms for embarrass on Thesaurus.com
1. discompose, discomfit, chagrin. 3. hamper, hinder.

Synonym study

1. See confuse.

Embarras

or Em·barrass

[am-braw]
noun
  1. a river in E Illinois, flowing S and SE to the Wabash River. 185 miles (298 km) long.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for embarrass

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • However, he was not embarrassed; it took a great deal to embarrass him.

  • I would give it to you in the original, but it might embarrass you; it certainly would me.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • I asked him for it; but the question appeared to embarrass him.

    Homeward Bound

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • In the meantime, Rougon's triumph was beginning to embarrass him.

  • This pointed question seemed to embarrass Mr. Parker greatly.

    Thankful's Inheritance

    Joseph C. Lincoln


British Dictionary definitions for embarrass

embarrass

verb (mainly tr)
  1. (also intr) to feel or cause to feel confusion or self-consciousness; disconcert; fluster
  2. (usually passive) to involve in financial difficulties
  3. archaic to make difficult; complicate
  4. archaic to impede; obstruct; hamper
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Derived Formsembarrassed, adjectiveembarrassedly, adverb

Word Origin

C17: (in the sense: to impede): via French and Spanish from Italian imbarrazzare, from imbarrare to confine within bars; see en- 1, bar 1
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 embarrass

v.

1670s, "perplex, throw into doubt," from French embarrasser (16c.), literally "to block," from embarras "obstacle," from Italian imbarrazzo, from imbarrare "to bar," from in- "into, upon" (see in- (2)) + Vulgar Latin *barra "bar."

Meaning "hamper, hinder" is from 1680s. Meaning "make (someone) feel awkward" first recorded 1828. Original sense preserved in embarras de richesse (1751), from French (1726): the condition of having more wealth than one knows what to do with. Related: Embarrassed; embarrassing; embarrassingly.

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embarras

n.

1660s, from French embarras "obstacle;" see embarrass.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper