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shame Line breaks: shame

Definition of shame in English:


[mass noun]
1A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour: 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.
1.1A loss of respect or esteem; dishonour: 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.
1.2 [count noun] A person, action, or situation that brings a loss of respect or honour: 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.
discredit to, disgrace to, stain on, blemish on, blot on, blot on the escutcheon of, slur on, reproach to, bad reflection on;
stigma, scandal, outrage
literary smirch on
2 [in singular] A regrettable or unfortunate situation or action: what a shame Ellie won’t be here 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, crying shame, cause for regret, source of regret, sad thing, unfortunate thing;
informal bummer, crime, sin


[with object] Back to top  
1Make (someone) feel ashamed: I tried to shame him into giving some away legal action must be taken and companies named and shamed
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, make someone feel ashamed, chagrin, embarrass, abash, chasten, humble, put someone in their place, take down a peg or two, cut down to size, show up
North American informal make someone eat crow
US informal own
1.1Bring shame to: the entire debacle has shamed Scotland
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.
1.2Cause (someone) to feel 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.


South African Back to top  
Used to express sentimental pleasure, especially at something small and endearing: look at the foals—shame, aren’t they sweet?


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).


put someone to shame

Make someone feel inadequate by greatly 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.
outshine, outclass, overshadow, eclipse, surpass, excel, be superior to, outstrip, outdo, put in the shade, upstage, leave behind;
show up, humble
informal run rings around, be head and shoulders above, leave standing, knock into a cocked hat
British informal knock spots off
archaic outrival, outvie
rare put to the blush

shame on you

Used to reprove someone for something of which they should be ashamed: shame on you for hitting a woman
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.

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

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Word of the day haughty
Pronunciation: ˈhôdē
arrogantly superior and disdainful