See also: s̈ha'me




  • IPA(key): /ʃeɪm/
  • Audio (US):(file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪm

Etymology 1


From Middle English schame, from Old English sċamu, from Proto-Germanic *skamō.



shame (usually uncountable, plural shames)

  1. An uncomfortable or painful feeling due to recognition or consciousness of one's own impropriety or dishonor, or something being exposed that should have been kept private.
    When I realized that I had hurt my friend, I felt deep shame.
    The teenager couldn’t bear the shame of introducing his parents.
  2. Something to regret.
    It was a shame not to see the show after driving all that way.
  3. Reproach incurred or suffered; dishonour; ignominy; derision.
  4. The cause or reason of shame; that which brings reproach and ignominy.
    • 1692–1717, Robert South, Twelve Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions, volumes (please specify |volume=I to VI), London:
      guides who are the shame of religion
    • 1989, Grant Naylor, Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers:
      Rimmer ducked his body low into his chair, so just his head remained above the table top, and peered past the backs of the examinees in front of him, waiting for the adjudicator to make his move. Waiting for him to leap forward and rip off his flimsy flightsuit, exposing his shame: his illustrated body, Rimmer's cheating frame.
  5. That which is shameful and private, especially private parts.
    • 1902, R. H. Charles, transl., The book of Jubilees, or The little Genesis, London: A. and C. Black, 3:22, page 26:
      And he took fig-leaves and sewed (them) together, and made an apron for himself, and covered his shame.
    • 1991, Martha Graham, Blood Memory, Washington Square Press:
      She turns to lift her robe, and lays it across her as though she were revealing her shame, as though she were naked.
    • 2010, Jill Mansell, Millie's Fling, →ISBN:
      She didn't even have her handbag, because Zelda had thoughtfully left it in the kitchen along with her clothes. And nobody had even offered her so much as a T-shirt to cover her shame.
    • 2015, Marlene van Niekerk, Triomf, →ISBN:
      The trouble started early this morning when Pop was shoving his shirt and vest into his pants so he could cover his shame, as he puts it.
    • 2015, Marion Grace Woolley, Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran, Ghostwoods Books, page 182:
      His genitals lank between his legs, his chin dipped upon his breast, staring down at his shame.
  6. The capacity to be ashamed, inhibiting one from brazen behaviour; due regard for one's own moral conduct and how one is perceived by others; restraint, moderation, decency.
    Don't you have any shame?
  • (antonym(s) of uncomfortable or painful feeling): honor
Derived terms
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.




  1. A cry of admonition for the subject of a speech, either to denounce the speaker or to agree with the speaker's denunciation of some person or matter; often used reduplicated, especially in political debates.
    • 1982, “Telecommunications Bill”, in Hansard:
      Mr John Golding: One would not realise that it came from the same Government, because in that letter the Under-Secretary states: "The future of BT's pension scheme is a commercial matter between BT, its workforce, and the trustees of the pensions scheme, and the Government cannot give any guarantees about future pension arrangements."
      #*: Mr. Charles R. Morris: Shame.
    • 1831, The Bristol Job Nott; or, Labouring Man's Friend[3]:
      [] the Duke of Dorset charged in the list with "not known, but supposed forty thousand per year" (charitable supposition) had when formerly in office only about 3 or £4,000, and has not now, nor when the black list was printed, any office whatever — (Much tumult, and cries of "shame" and "doust the liars")
  2. (South Africa) Expressing sympathy.
    Shame, you poor thing, you must be cold!
Derived terms



shame (comparative more shame, superlative most shame)

  1. (Australian Aboriginal) Feeling shame; ashamed.
    • 1998, Robyn Lynn, Rosamund Thorpe, Debra Miles with Christine Cutts, Anne Butcher, Linda Ford, 'Murri way!': Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders reconstruct social welfare practice[4], Centre for Social Research, →ISBN, page 47:
      She says that she doesn't touch them, this is important, sometimes maybe a handshake may make them more shame, that is shy or embarrassed.
    • 2018, Anthony McKnight, Valerie Harwood, Samantha McMahon, Amy Priestly, Jake Trindorfer, “'No shame at AIME': listening to Aboriginal philosophy and methodologies to theorise shame in educational contexts”, in The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, volume 49, number 1, →DOI, page 52 of 46–56:
      Int.[:] What types of things have you learnt about at AIME, like about yourselves or about others?
      Deon[:] To be confident.
      Greg[:] Yeah be confident. And not be shame
    • 2024, Geraldine Fela, “Don't be shame, be game! Responding to HIV and AIDS in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities”, in History Australia, volume 21, number 2, →DOI, page 262 of 261–279:
      Aunty Gracelyn is most famous for her role in developing 'Condoman', the Indigenous superhero whose catchcry and public health message 'don’t be shame be game, use condoms!' became a defining figure of Australia's HIV and AIDS crisis.

Etymology 2


From Middle English schamen, from Old English sċamian, from Proto-West Germanic *skamēn, from Proto-Germanic *skamāną.



shame (third-person singular simple present shames, present participle shaming, simple past and past participle shamed)

  1. (transitive) To cause to feel shame.
    I was shamed by the teacher's public disapproval.
    • 1692–1717, Robert South, Twelve Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions, volumes (please specify |volume=I to VI), London:
      Were there but one righteous in the world, he would [] shame the world, and not the world him.
  2. (transitive) To cover with reproach or ignominy; to dishonor; to disgrace.
  3. (transitive) To denounce as having done something shameful; to criticize with the intent or effect of causing a feeling of shame.
    Stop shaming others about their food choices.
  4. (transitive) To drive or compel by shame.
    The politician was shamed into resigning.
  5. (obsolete, intransitive) To feel shame, be ashamed.
  6. (obsolete, transitive) To mock at; to deride.
  • (antonym(s) of to cause to feel shame): honor, dignify
Derived terms