Definition of embarrass in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ɪmˈbarəs/
Pronunciation: /ɛmˈbarəs/


[with object]
1Cause (someone) to feel awkward, self-conscious, or ashamed: she wouldn’t embarrass either of them by making a scene
More example sentences
  • Okay, for those of my readers who have children, how often have your kids embarrassed you in public?
  • Regardless of the age of the husband, the relatives give themselves the right to discipline him, scold, restrain, monitor, and embarrass him in public.
  • The message is clear: there will be no room for players who break the rules and embarrass the team in public.
shame, humiliate, make ashamed, demean, abash;
mortify, horrify, appal, crush;
make uncomfortable, make awkward, make self-conscious, make uneasy;
upset, disconcert, discomfit, discompose, confuse, fluster, agitate, nonplus, discountenance, distress, chagrin;
discredit, dishonour
informal show up, faze, rattle, discombobulate
US informal own
1.1 (be embarrassed) Be caused financial difficulties: he would be embarrassed by estate duty
2 archaic Hamper or impede (a person or action): the state of the rivers will embarrass the enemy
2.1 archaic Make difficult or intricate; complicate: I do not apprehend that this case will be embarrassed by that decision


Early 17th century (in sense 2): from French embarrasser, from Spanish embarazar, probably from Portuguese embaraçar (from baraço 'halter').

  • Although it came into English from French, embarrass was probably based on Portuguese baraço ‘halter’. The first English sense was ‘to encumber or impede’: the notion of difficulty or problems led to the use of embarrassed to mean ‘in difficulties through lack of money’, as in financially embarrassed. The familiar modern meaning was not recorded until the early 19th century.

Words that rhyme with embarrass

Arras, harass

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: em¦bar|rass

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.