a. A painful emotion caused by the belief that one is, or is perceived by others to be, inferior or unworthy of affection or respect because of one's actions, thoughts, circumstances, or experiences: felt shame for having dropped out of school.
b. Respect for propriety or morality: Have you no shame?
a. A condition of disgrace or dishonor; ignominy: an act that brought shame on the whole family.
b. A regrettable or unfortunate situation: "It was a shame how the place had fallen apart, with tall scorched grass and sagging gutters" (Tom Drury).
c. One that brings dishonor, disgrace, or condemnation: "I would ... Forget the shames that you have stained me with" (Shakespeare).
tr.v. shamed, sham·ing, shamesIdioms:
a. To cause to feel shame: "expletives that would have shamed a stevedore" (Jeffrey Tayler).
b. To cause to feel ashamed to the point of doing something: I was shamed into making an apology.
a. To bring dishonor or disgrace on: behavior that shamed him in the eyes of the community.
b. To disgrace by surpassing: wanted revenge because a rival had shamed him in the previous race.
put to shame
1. To cause to feel shame.
2. To outdo thoroughly; surpass: Your kindness has put the rest of us to shame.
sense of shame
An understanding and respect for propriety and morality.
[Middle English, from Old English sceamu.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.