Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To make ashamed or uneasy; disconcert. See Synonyms at embarrass.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To destroy the self-possession of; to confuse or confound, as by exciting suddenly a consciousness of guilt, mistake, or inferiority; to put to shame; to disconcert; to discomfit.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To confuse or confound, as by suddenly exciting a consciousness of guilt, error, inferiority, etc.; destroy the self-possession of; make ashamed or dispirited; put to confusion.
  • To stand or be confounded; lose self-possession.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. cause to be embarrassed; cause to feel self-conscious

Etymologies

Middle English abaishen, to lose one's composure, from Old French esbahir, esbahiss- : es-, intensive pref. (from Latin ex-; see ex-) + baer, to gape; see bay2.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • “And sore must be the storm / That could abash the little bird / That kept so many warm.”

    History of a Suicide

  • Admiration was not in it, for it did not agitate; nor audacity, for it did not abash; but something that thrilled warm through blood and nerves, that filled her with a glad submission to some power, absolute yet tender, and caused her to turn . . .

    Louisa May Alcott

  • Judah or Israel, descended from the rocks and caverns in which he dwelt in abstracted solitude, to abash earthly tyrants in the midst of their pride, by discharging on them the blighting denunciations of Divine Majesty, even as the cloud discharges the lightnings with which it is fraught on the pinnacles and towers of castles and palaces.

    The Talisman

  • Then said Brynhild, “Ill to abash folk of their mirth; prithee do not so; let us talk together for our disport of mighty kings and their great deeds.”

    The Story of the Volsungs

  • You must find those ADULTS to expect the abash these themes.

    Breaking Up Is Not BreakingAway: The Pseudo-Empowerment of Kelly Clarkson | PopPolitics.com

  • He did not abash me by causelesly laying my disorder on his story, and by offering to discontinue or postpone it.

    Sir Charles Grandison

  • The censures of mankind will pursue the wretch, their scorn will abash him in publick; and if shame drives him into retirement, he will go to it with all those terrors with which a weary child, who is afraid of hobgoblins, retreats from company to go to bed alone.

    The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

  • He had never blushed in his life: no humiliation could abash him: his nerves were not capable of sensation enough to stir his life, and make colour mount to his cheek: he had no fire in his blood, and no modesty in his soul: he was a frontless, arrogant; decorous slip of the commonplace; conceited, inane, insipid: and this gentleman had a notion of wooing Miss Keeldar!

    Shirley, by Charlotte Bronte

  • "Of imposture!" cried Lady Devine, all her outraged maternity nerving her to abash her enemy.

    For the term of his natural life

  • It was, one may say, impossible for mortal man or woman to abash Madeline Neroni.

    Barchester Towers

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