from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Feeling shame or guilt.
  • adjective Feeling inferior, inadequate, or embarrassed.
  • adjective Reluctant through fear of humiliation or shame.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Affected or touched by shame; abashed or confused by guilt or a conviction of some wrong action, indecorous conduct, or other impropriety: hardly used attributively: followed by of, or by a dependent clause with that.
  • Reluctant through fear of shame: followed by an infinitive: as, I am ashamed to offer it, it is so little.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Affected by shame; abashed or confused by guilt, or a conviction or consciousness of some wrong action or impropriety.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Feeling shame or guilt.
  • verb Simple past tense and past participle of ashame.

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

  • adjective feeling shame or guilt or embarrassment or remorse


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

[Middle English, from Old English āsceamod, past participle of āsceamian, to feel shame : ā-, intensive pref. + sceamian, to feel shame.]


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  • One of the more powerful words in the English language. I remember Robert Bly reading this Alden Nolan poem, pausing, and remarking on the use of the word ashamed.

    Then there's the Sufjan Stevens song Romulus, in which he sings, "I was ashamed, I was ashamed of her." The narrator is talking about his mother and when he sings "of her," he can't muster any more than a whisper.

    January 31, 2007

  • I'm not so sure of the power of this word. There are varying levels of being ashamed. There is the shame of a child, and shame of a man, which are two completely different things. Obviously, shame is a much deeper emotion than something simple like embarrassment, but the expression "you should be ashamed of yourself" doesn't carry with it any gravitas.

    February 1, 2007

  • agreed. It can be overused.

    February 2, 2007