Definition of shame in English:

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Pronunciation: /SHām/


1A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior: she was hot with shame he felt a pang of shame at telling Alice a lie
More example sentences
  • It should not be overlooked that this could be due to the feelings of fear, shame, embarrassment or anger that the victims may still feel during or even after the event.
  • It's what mainly life is about - humiliation, embarrassment, shame and shyness, all the other things.
  • No fictional account of human humiliation and shame can capture the frightening banality of the people's treatment at these checkpoints.
humiliation, mortification, chagrin, ignominy, embarrassment, indignity, discomfort
guilt, remorse, contrition, compunction
1.1A loss of respect or esteem; dishonor: the incident had brought shame on his family
More example sentences
  • It brought such shame and dishonor to the entire family.
  • If they flinch during the act, boys bring shame and dishonor to themselves and their family.
  • They were anxious to bring forward their good reputation, and they stressed that the perpetrator's acts had brought shame and dishonour on them.
disgrace, dishonor, discredit, degradation, ignominy, disrepute, infamy, scandal, opprobrium, contempt
dated disesteem
1.2Used to reprove someone for something of which they should be ashamed: shame on you for dredging up such terrible memories for shame, brother!
More example sentences
  • A member of the International Socialists interrupted him, calling out, ‘shame on you for calling us on thinking, shame on you, this is supposed to be a university.’
  • But shame on you for saying she is from Brentwood, La.
  • And lest you doubt their authenticity - shame on you - two of the members have studied Bulgarian folklore in the academic setting.
1.3 [in singular] A regrettable or unfortunate situation or action: it is a shame that they are not better known
More example sentences
  • It's a shame as they do contribute so much to the character of a place.
  • He really is that good here and it was a shame he did not win the Oscar.
  • It would be a shame to bring home a bounty of lovely fashionable gifts and nothing suits her.
pity, misfortune, sad thing;
bad luck
informal bummer, crime, sin, crying shame
1.4A person, action, or situation that brings a loss of respect or honor: ignorance of Latin would be a disgrace and a shame to any public man
More example sentences
  • It's very much a book about a man remembering being a child, and it's very much about a man remembering the shames of being a child.
  • Awarded the Military Cross, he took lives to save others, contributing to the ‘long-famous glories, immemorial shames of war’.
  • Secret shames are divulged delicately, drawing viewers into the lives of the characters.


[with object]
1(Of a person, action, or situation) make (someone) feel ashamed: I tried to shame him into giving some away
More example sentences
  • I was shamed and embarrassed, yet decided that I should still go to the Wallace Monument.
  • In this case men are shamed into silence, a form of abuse that few women today would tolerate.
  • Putting bumper stickers on people's cars, they say, is an updated way of inducing shame for social good, in this case by shaming SUV drivers about their purchase.
humiliate, mortify, chagrin, embarrass, abash, chasten, humble, take down a peg or two, cut down to size
informal show up, make someone eat crow
1.1Bring shame to: the entire debacle has shamed our community
More example sentences
  • The British Prime Minister Tony Blair says they have shamed their country.
  • Two more mums are planning to join the legal fight to shame Croydon Council in providing better funding for its schools.
  • At her wedding, Claudio shames her by saying she is unfaithful.
disgrace, dishonor, discredit, degrade, debase;
stigmatize, taint, sully, tarnish, besmirch, blacken, drag through the mud
1.2Cause (someone) to feel ashamed or inadequate by outdoing or surpassing them: she shames me with her eighty-year-old energy
More example sentences
  • If Mother were alive today, she'd put TV makeover shows to shame, for she excelled in transformation.
  • Her skill at passing herself off as someone else would have shamed even James Bond.
  • Yet EU public opinion seems to have shamed even the French.


put someone to shame

Disgrace or embarrass someone by outdoing or surpassing them: she puts me to shame, she’s so capable
More example sentences
  • He is putting Hitler to shame by his cold-blooded savagery.
  • With hands on their hips they thrust their pelvises, putting Elvis to shame.
  • He shines like sunlight during my darkest times, putting DeBeers to shame.


Old English sc(e)amu (noun), sc(e)amian 'feel shame', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch schamen (verb) and German Scham (noun), schämen (verb).

Words that rhyme with shame

acclaim, aflame, aim, became, blame, came, claim, dame, exclaim, fame, flame, frame, game, lame, maim, misname, name, proclaim, same, tame

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: shame

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