• synonyms


[shah-muh s]
noun, plural sha·mo·sim [shah-maw-sim] /ʃɑˈmɔ sɪm/.
  1. shammes.
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  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.
  3. disgrace; ignominy: His actions brought shame upon his parents.
  4. 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.
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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.
  3. to drive, force, etc., through shame: He shamed her into going.
  4. to cover with ignominy or reproach; disgrace.
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  1. for shame! you should feel ashamed!: What a thing to say to your mother! For shame!
  2. put to shame,
    1. to cause to suffer shame or disgrace.
    2. to outdo; surpass: She played so well she put all the other tennis players to shame.
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Origin of shame

before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English sc(e)amu; cognate with German Scham, Old Norse skǫmm; (v.) Middle English schamen, shamien to be ashamed, Old English sc(e)amian, derivative of the noun
Related formssham·a·ble, shame·a·ble, adjectivesham·a·bly, shame·a·bly, adverbhalf-shamed, adjectiveout·shame, verb (used with object), out·shamed, out·sham·ing.un·sham·a·ble, adjectiveun·shame·a·ble, adjectiveun·shamed, adjective

Synonyms 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. 5. humiliate, mortify, humble, abash, embarrass.

Antonyms for shame


or sha·mes

[shah-muh s]
noun, plural sham·mo·sim [shah-maw-sim] /ʃɑˈmɔ sɪm/.
  1. sexton(def 2).
  2. the candle used to kindle the candles in the Hanukkah menorah.
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Origin of shammes

1945–50; < Yiddish shames < Hebrew shammāsh server, attendant
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shames

Historical Examples of shames

  • Here have I found that which shames and bankrupts the Ideal!

    Alice, or The Mysteries, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • Here is sanctity which shames our religions, and reality which discredits our heroes.

    Essays, Second Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • No Shames; as you pegins this little job, it is besh you finish it yourself.

  • No, sir” replied the keeper; “but James is the English for Shames.

    The Eagle Cliff

    R.M. Ballantyne

  • “What you remark is true likewise, Shames,” said the skipper.

    The Eagle Cliff

    R.M. Ballantyne

British Dictionary definitions for shames


  1. a painful emotion resulting from an awareness of having done something dishonourable, unworthy, degrading, etc
  2. capacity to feel such an emotion
  3. ignominy or disgrace
  4. a person or thing that causes this
  5. an occasion for regret, disappointment, etcit's a shame you can't come with us
  6. put to shame
    1. to disgrace
    2. to surpass totally
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  1. Southern African informal
    1. an expression of sympathy
    2. an expression of pleasure or endearment
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verb (tr)
  1. to cause to feel shame
  2. to bring shame on; disgrace
  3. (often foll by into) to compel through a sense of shamehe shamed her into making an apology
  4. name and shame See name (def. 17)
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Derived Formsshamable or shameable, adjective

Word Origin for shame

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



noun plural shammosim or shammashim (Hebrew ʃaˈmɔsɪm) Judaism
  1. an official acting as the beadle, sexton, and caretaker of a synagogue
  2. the extra candle used on the Feast of Hanukkah to kindle the lamps or candles of the menorah
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Word Origin for shammes

from Hebrew shāmmāsh, from Aramaic shĕmāsh to serve
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 shames



Old English scamu, sceomu "feeling of guilt or disgrace; confusion caused by shame; disgrace, dishonor, insult, loss of esteem or reputation; shameful circumstance, what brings disgrace; modesty; private parts," from Proto-Germanic *skamo (cf. Old Saxon skama, Old Norse skömm, Swedish skam, Old Frisian scome, Dutch schaamte, Old High German scama, German Scham). The best guess is that this is from PIE *skem-, from *kem- "to cover" (covering oneself being a common expression of shame).

Until modern times English had a productive duplicate form in shand. An Old Norse word for it was kinnroði, literally "cheek-redness," hence, "blush of shame." Greek distinguished shame in the bad sense of "disgrace, dishonor" (aiskhyne) from shame in the good sense of "modesty, bashfulness" (aidos). To put (someone or something) to shame is mid-13c. Shame culture attested by 1947.

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Old English scamian "be ashamed, blush, feel shame; cause shame," from the root of shame (n.). Cf. Old Saxon scamian, Dutch schamen, Old High German scamen, Danish skamme, Gothic skaman, German schämen sich. Related: Shamed; shaming.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with shames


In addition to the idiom beginning with shame

  • shame on you

also see:

  • crying shame
  • for shame
  • put to shame
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.