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

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English schame, from Old English sċamu, sċomu, sċeamu, sċeomu (shame),[1] from Proto-Germanic *skamō.[1] Cognate with German Scham, Dutch schaamte, West Frisian skamte, Icelandic skömm, Danish skam. Related to shand.


shame (usually uncountable, plural shames)

  1. 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.
    • 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.
    • 1609, William Shakespeare, Sonnet 34:
      Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief.
    • 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. That which is shameful and private, especially private parts.
    • 1611, KJV, Jubilees 3:22:
      And he took fig leaves and sewed them together and made an apron for himself. And he 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.
  • (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 Wiktionary:Entry layout#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 Middle English schamen, from Old English sċamian, from Proto-Germanic *skamōną. Cognate with Dutch schamen, German Low German schamen, German schämen, Swedish skämma, Icelandic skamma.


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.
    • Robert South (1634–1716)
      Were there but one righteous in the world, he would [] shame the world, and not the world him.
  2. To cover with reproach or ignominy; to dishonor; to disgrace.
    • Edmund Spenser (c.1552–1599)
      And with foul cowardice his carcass shame.
  3. (transitive) To drive or compel by shame.
    The politician was shamed into resigning.
  4. (obsolete, intransitive) To feel shame, be ashamed.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter xxij, in Le Morte Darthur, book VII:
      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.
  5. (obsolete, transitive) To mock at; to deride.
Derived termsEdit


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