Borrowed from French embarrasser (to block, to obstruct), from Spanish embarazar, from Portuguese embaraçar, from em- (in) (from Latin im-) + baraço (noose, rope), the latter ultimately being from Akkadian 𒆟 (KEŠDA /rakāsu/, to tie).



embarrass (third-person singular simple present embarrasses, present participle embarrassing, simple past and past participle embarrassed)

  1. (transitive) to humiliate; to disrupt somebody's composure or comfort with acting publicly or freely; to disconcert; to abash
    The crowd's laughter and jeers embarrassed him.
  2. (transitive) To hinder from liberty of movement; to impede; to obstruct.
    The motion was advanced in order to embarrass the progress of the bill.
    • 2004 October 15, Judith A. Snider, J., “kisikawpemootewin v. Canada, 2004 FC 1426”, in CanLII[1], retrieved 7 November 2020:
      In the case at bar, there is very little beyond bare assertions and bald statements against the unidentified and unspecified Defendant(s). The claim is vexatious in that the Defendant, if identifiable, is left both embarrassed and unable to defend itself. The Court is left with a proceeding so ill-defined that it is unable to discern an argument, or identify any specific material facts.
  3. (transitive) To involve in difficulties concerning money matters; to encumber with debt; to beset with urgent claims or demands.
    A man or his business is embarrassed when he cannot meet his pecuniary engagements.


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