What does shame mean?

Definitions for shame

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word shame.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. shamenoun

    a painful emotion resulting from an awareness of inadequacy or guilt

  2. shame, disgrace, ignominynoun

    a state of dishonor

    "one mistake brought shame to all his family"; "suffered the ignominy of being sent to prison"

  3. pity, shameverb

    an unfortunate development

    "it's a pity he couldn't do it"

  4. dishonor, disgrace, dishonour, attaint, shameverb

    bring shame or dishonor upon

    "he dishonored his family by committing a serious crime"

  5. shameverb

    compel through a sense of shame

    "She shamed him into making amends"

  6. shameverb

    cause to be ashamed

  7. shameverb

    surpass or beat by a wide margin

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. SHAMEnoun

    Etymology: sceam , Saxon; schaemte, Dutch.

    Lamenting sorrow did in darkness lye,
    And shame his ugly face did hide from living eye. Fa. Qu.

    Peace, peace, for shame, if not for charity.
    —— Urge neither charity nor shame to me:
    Uncharitably with me have you dealt,
    And shamefully my hopes by you are butcher’d:
    My charity is outrage, life my shame;
    And in my shame still lives my sorrow’s rage. William Shakespeare, R. III.

    Hide, for shame,
    Romans, your grandsires images,
    That blush at their degenerate progeny. Dryden.

    In the schools men are allowed, without shame, to deny the agreement of ideas; or out of the schools, from thence have learned, without shame, to deny the connection of ideas. John Locke.

    The more shame for him that he sends it me;
    For I have heard him say a thousand times,
    His Julia gave it him at his departure. William Shakespeare.

    Aaron had made them naked unto their shame amongst their enemies. Ex. xxxii. 25.

    God deliver the world from such guides, who are the shame of religion. South.

    This jest was first of the other house’s making,
    And, five times try’d, has never fail’d of taking;
    For ’twere a shame a poet should be kill’d,
    Under the shelter of so broad a shield. Dryden.

    O shame to manhood! shall one daring boy
    The scheme of all our happiness destroy? Alexander Pope, Odyssey.

    A foul shame is upon the thief. Ecclus. v. 14.

    Turn’d to exploding hiss, triumph to shame,
    Cast on themselves from their own mouths. John Milton.

  2. To Shameverb

    Etymology: from the noun.

    To tell thee of whom deriv’d,
    Were shame enough to shame thee, wert thou not shameless. Sh.

    If thou hast power to raise him, bring him hither,
    And I’ve power to shame him hence:
    Oh, while you live tell truth and shame the devil. William Shakespeare.

    Hyperbolus by suffering did traduce
    The ostracism, and sham’d it out of use. John Cleveland.

    Of all our good, sham’d, naked, miserable. John Milton.

    What hurt can there be in all the slanders and disgraces of this world, if they are but the arts and methods of providence to shame us into the glories of the next. South.

    Were there but one righteous man in the world, he would hold up his head with confidence and honour; he would shame the world, and not the world him. South.

    He in a loathsome dungeon doom’d to lie,
    In bonds retain’d his birthright liberty,
    And sham’d oppression, ’till it set him free. Dryden.

    The coward bore the man immortal spite,
    Who sham’d him out of madness into flight. Dryden.

    Who shames a scribbler, breaks a cobweb through;
    He spins the slight self-pleasing thread a-new. Alexander Pope.

    Certes, sir knight, ye been too much to blame,
    Thus for to blot the honour of the dead,
    And with foul cowardice his carcass shame. Fairy Queen.

    So bent, the more shall shame him his repulse. John Milton.

  3. To Shameverb

    To be ashamed.

    Great shame it is, thing so divine in view,
    Made for to be the world’s most ornament,
    To make the bait her gazers to embrew;
    Good shames to be to ill an instrument. Edmund Spenser.

    Sham’st thou not, knowing whence thou art extraught,
    To let thy tongue detect thy base-born heart? William Shakespeare.

    To the trunk of it authors give such a magnitude, as I shame to repeat. Walter Raleigh, History of the World.

    Auster spy’d him,
    Cruel Auster thither hy’d him;
    And with the rush of one rude blast,
    Sham’d not spitefully to waste
    All his leaves, so fresh, so sweet,
    And lay them trembling at his feet. Richard Crashaw.


  1. Shame

    Shame is an unpleasant self-conscious emotion often associated with negative self-evaluation; motivation to quit; and feelings of pain, exposure, distrust, powerlessness, and worthlessness.


  1. shame

    Shame is a powerful personal emotion characterized by a profound negative feeling about oneself typically resulting from actions, behaviors, or perceptions that an individual believes have violated social or personal standards, codes or ethics. It often involves feelings of humiliation, embarrassment, inadequacy, guilt or regret.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Shamenoun

    a painful sensation excited by a consciousness of guilt or impropriety, or of having done something which injures reputation, or of the exposure of that which nature or modesty prompts us to conceal

  2. Shamenoun

    reproach incurred or suffered; dishonor; ignominy; derision; contempt

  3. Shamenoun

    the cause or reason of shame; that which brings reproach, and degrades a person in the estimation of others; disgrace

  4. Shamenoun

    the parts which modesty requires to be covered; the private parts

  5. Shameverb

    to make ashamed; to excite in (a person) a comsciousness of guilt or impropriety, or of conduct derogatory to reputation; to put to shame

  6. Shameverb

    to cover with reproach or ignominy; to dishonor; to disgrace

  7. Shameverb

    to mock at; to deride

  8. Shamenoun

    to be ashamed; to feel shame

  9. Etymology: [OE. shame, schame, AS. scamu, sceamu; akin to OS. & OHG. scama, G. scham, Icel. skmm, shkamm, Sw. & Dan. skam, D. & G. schande, Goth. skanda shame, skaman sik to be ashamed; perhaps from a root skam meaning to cover, and akin to the root (kam) of G. hemd shirt, E. chemise. Cf. Sham.]


  1. Shame

    Shame is, variously, an affect, emotion, cognition, state, or condition. The roots of the word shame are thought to derive from an older word meaning "to cover"; as such, covering oneself, literally or figuratively, is a natural expression of shame. Nineteenth century scientist Charles Darwin, in his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, described shame affect as consisting of blushing, confusion of mind, downward cast eyes, slack posture, and lowered head, and he noted observations of shame affect in human populations worldwide. He also noted the sense of warmth or heat occurring in intense shame. A "sense of shame" is the consciousness or awareness of shame as a state or condition. Such shame cognition may occur as a result of the experience of shame affect or, more generally, in any situation of embarrassment, dishonor, disgrace, inadequacy, humiliation, or chagrin. A condition or state of shame may also be assigned externally, by others, regardless of one's own experience or awareness. "To shame" generally means to actively assign or communicate a state of shame to another. Behaviors designed to "uncover" or "expose" others are sometimes used for this purpose, as are utterances like "Shame!" or "Shame on you!" Finally, to "have shame" means to maintain a sense of restraint against offending others while to "have no shame" is to behave without such restraint.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Shame

    shām, n. the feeling caused by the exposure of that which ought to be concealed, or by a consciousness of guilt: the cause of shame, a person or thing to be ashamed of: disgrace, dishonour: (B.) the parts of the body which modesty requires to be concealed.—v.t. to make ashamed: to cause to blush: to cover with reproach: to drive or compel by shame.—adj. Shame′faced (properly Shame′fast, A.S. sceam-fæst), very modest or bashful.—adv. Shame′facedly.—ns. Shame′facedness, Shame′fastness, modesty.—adj. Shame′ful, disgraceful.—adv. Shame′fully.—n. Shame′fulness.—adj. Shame′less, immodest: done without shame: audacious.—adv. Shame′lessly.—n. Shame′lessness.—adj. Shame′-proof (Shak.), insensible to shame.—ns. Shā′mer, one who, or that which, makes ashamed; Shame′-reel, the first dance after the celebration of marriage, the bride being the best man's partner, the best maid the bridegroom's.—For shame, an interjectional phrase, signifying 'you should be ashamed!'—Put to shame, to cause to feel shame. [A.S. sceamu, scamu, modesty; Ice. skömm, a wound, Ger. scham.]

U.S. National Library of Medicine

  1. Shame

    An emotional attitude excited by realization of a shortcoming or impropriety.

British National Corpus

  1. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'shame' in Written Corpus Frequency: #1561

  2. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'shame' in Nouns Frequency: #1914

How to pronounce shame?

How to say shame in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of shame in Chaldean Numerology is: 9

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of shame in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of shame in a Sentence

  1. Brené Brown:

    Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.

  2. Laurie Bernard:

    Shame on you, shame on you for arbitrarily just picking an address and just believing what’s posted.

  3. Gaspare Valenti:

    What a shame. Look what we came down to, it's life. We did it to ourselves.

  4. Frode Mauring:

    This is a huge concern, it's a shame that not everybody has been helped.

  5. Many Republicans:

    It is a shame that Nancy Pelosi is trying to disarm Members of Congress in the very place that needed more protection on January 6, it is clear metal detectors would not have deterred the violent acts we saw ; this political stunt does nothing to improve the safety of Members in the Capitol complex.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for shame

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"shame." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 3 Mar. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/shame>.

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    regarding something abstract as a material thing
    • A. meerschaum
    • B. hypostatization
    • C. liniment
    • D. larceny

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