From embarrass +‎ -ment


  • IPA(key): /ɪmˈbæɹəsmənt/


embarrassment (countable and uncountable, plural embarrassments)

  1. A state of discomfort arising from bashfulness or consciousness of having violated a social rule; humiliation.
  2. A state of confusion arising from hesitation or difficulty in choosing.
  3. A person or thing which is the cause of humiliation to another.
    Kevin, you are an embarrassment to this family.
    Losing this highly publicized case was an embarrassment to the firm.
    • 2014 August 21, “A brazen heist in Paris [print version: International New York Times, 22 August 2014, p. 8]”, in The New York Times[1]:
      The audacious hijacking in Paris of a van carrying the baggage of a Saudi prince to his private jet is obviously an embarrassment to the French capital, whose ultra-high-end boutiques have suffered a spate of heists in recent months.
  4. A large collection of good or valuable things, especially one that exceeds requirements.
    • 1914, Collier's, page 30
      There are over 5,000 Americans now in Paris, many artists, singers, musicians, writers, and actors, so many, indeed, the committee could hardly pick a program from an embarrassment of volunteers.
    • 1996, David Morgan Evans, Peter Salway, David Thackray, The Remains of Distant Times: Archaeology and the National Trust, Boydell & Brewer →ISBN, page 188
      The landscape presented an embarrassment of riches for the industrial archaeologist, and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century remains were still visible in abundance
    • 2013, Frank Boccia, The Crouching Beast: A United States Army Lieutenant's Account of the Battle for Hamburger Hill, May 1969, McFarland →ISBN, page 256
      At one time, I reflected, we'd had an embarrassment of good, qualified squad leader—ready men in the platoon.
  5. (medicine) Impairment of function due to disease: respiratory embarrassment.
  6. (dated) Difficulty in financial matters; poverty.

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