[ sheym ]
See synonyms for: shameshamedshaming on

  1. the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another: She was overcome with shame.

  2. susceptibility to this feeling: to be without shame.

  1. disgrace; ignominy: His actions brought shame upon his parents.

  2. a fact or circumstance bringing disgrace or regret: The bankruptcy of the business was a shame. It was a shame you couldn't come with us.

verb (used with object),shamed, sham·ing.
  1. to cause to feel shame; make ashamed: His cowardice shamed him.

  2. to publicly humiliate or shame for being or doing something specified (usually used in combination): kids who've been fat-shamed and bullied; dog-shaming pictures of canines chewing up shoes.

  1. to drive, force, etc., through shame: He shamed her into going.

  2. to cover with ignominy or reproach; disgrace.

Idioms about shame

  1. for shame! you should feel ashamed!: What a thing to say to your mother! For shame!

  2. put to shame,

    • to cause to suffer shame or disgrace.

    • to outdo; surpass:She played so well she put all the other tennis players to shame.

Origin of shame

First recorded before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English sc(i)amu; cognate with German Scham,Old Norse skǫmm; (verb) Middle English schamen, shamien “to be ashamed,” Old English sc(e)amian, derivative of the noun

synonym study For shame

1. Shame, embarrassment, mortification, humiliation, chagrin designate different kinds or degrees of painful feeling caused by injury to one's pride or self-respect. Shame is a painful feeling caused by the consciousness or exposure of unworthy or indecent conduct or circumstances: One feels shame at being caught in a lie. It is similar to guilt in the nature and origin of the feeling. Embarrassment usually refers to a feeling less painful than that of shame, one associated with less serious situations, often of a social nature: embarrassment over breaking a teacup at a party. Mortification is a more painful feeling, akin to shame but also more likely to arise from specifically social circumstances: his mortification at being singled out for rebuke. Humiliation is mortification at being humbled in the estimation of others: Being ignored gives one a sense of humiliation. Chagrin is humiliation mingled with vexation or anger: She felt chagrin at her failure to remember her promise.

Other words for shame

Opposites for shame

Other words from shame

  • sham·a·ble, shame·a·ble, adjective
  • sham·a·bly, shame·a·bly, adverb
  • half-shamed, adjective
  • outshame, verb (used with object), out·shamed, out·sham·ing.
  • un·sham·a·ble, adjective
  • un·shame·a·ble, adjective
  • un·shamed, adjective

Words Nearby shame Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use shame in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for shame


/ (ʃeɪm) /

  1. a painful emotion resulting from an awareness of having done something dishonourable, unworthy, degrading, etc

  2. capacity to feel such an emotion

  1. ignominy or disgrace

  2. a person or thing that causes this

  3. an occasion for regret, disappointment, etc: it's a shame you can't come with us

  4. put to shame

    • to disgrace

    • to surpass totally

  1. Southern African informal

    • an expression of sympathy

    • an expression of pleasure or endearment

  1. to cause to feel shame

  2. to bring shame on; disgrace

  1. (often foll by into) to compel through a sense of shame: he shamed her into making an apology

  2. name and shame See name (def. 17)

Origin of shame

Old English scamu; related to Old Norse skömm, Old High German skama

Derived forms of shame

  • shamable or shameable, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with shame


In addition to the idiom beginning with shame

  • shame on you

also see:

  • crying shame
  • for shame
  • put to shame

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.