Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English schame, from Old English scamu, scomu, sceamu, sceomu ‎(shame),[1] from Proto-Germanic *skamō,[1] and thus cognate with Old High German skama (whence German Scham), Old Dutch skama (Dutch schaamte), Old Frisian skame (West Frisian skamte), and Old Norse skǫmm (whence Icelandic skömm, Danish skam). From Proto-Indo-European *ḱem- ‎(cover, shroud),[1] which may also be the source of heaven; see that entry for details.

Compare also Tosk Albanian shaj ‎(to insult, offend, slander) / Gheg Albanian shamë ‎(an insult, offence).


shame ‎(usually uncountable, plural shames)

  1. Uncomfortable or painful feeling due to recognition or consciousness of impropriety, dishonor, or other wrong in the opinion of the person experiencing the feeling. It is caused by awareness of exposure of circumstances of unworthiness or of improper or indecent conduct.
    When I realized that I had hurt my friend, I felt deep shame.
    The teenager couldn’t bear the shame of introducing his parents.
    • William Shakespeare
      Have you no modesty, no maiden shame?
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 5, in The Celebrity:
      When this conversation was repeated in detail within the hearing of the young woman in question, and undoubtedly for his benefit, Mr. Trevor threw shame to the winds and scandalized the Misses Brewster then and there by proclaiming his father to have been a country storekeeper.
  2. Something to regret.
    It was a shame not to see the show after driving all that way.
    • William Shakespeare
      guides who are the shame of religion
    • Evelyn "Champagne" King, in the song Shame
      And what you do to me is a shame.
  3. Reproach incurred or suffered; dishonour; ignominy; derision.
    • Bible, Ezekiel xxxvi. 6
      Ye have borne the shame of the heathen.
    • Alexander Pope
      Honour and shame from no condition rise.
    • Lord Byron
      And every woe a tear can claim / Except an erring sister's shame.
  4. The cause or reason of shame; that which brings reproach and ignominy.
    • Shakespeare
      guides who are the shame of religion
  5. (archaic) That which is shameful and private, especially body parts.
    Cover your shame!
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Bible, Isa. xlvii. 3 to this entry?)
  • (uncomfortable or painful feeling): honor
Derived termsEdit
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.



  1. A cry of admonition for the subject of a speech, often used reduplicated, especially in political debates.
    • 1982, "Telecommunications Bill", 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
      [...] 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 termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From Old English scamian.


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

  1. (obsolete, intransitive) To feel shame, be ashamed.
    • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book VII, chapter xxij:
      Broder she said I can not telle yow For it was not done by me nor by myn assente / For he is my lord and I am his / and he must be myn husband / therfore my broder I wille that ye wete I shame me not to be with hym / nor to doo hym alle the pleasyr that I can
    • William Shakespeare (c.1564–1616)
      I do shame / To think of what a noble strain you are.
  2. (transitive) To cause to feel shame.
    I was shamed by the teacher's public disapproval.
    • Robert South (1634–1716)
      Were there but one righteous in the world, he would [] shame the world, and not the world him.
  3. To cover with reproach or ignominy; to dishonor; to disgrace.
    • Edmund Spenser (c.1552–1599)
      And with foul cowardice his carcass shame.
  4. (obsolete) To mock at; to deride.
Derived termsEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Gerhard Köbler, Altenglisches Wörterbuch, entry "scamu"


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