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

  • transitive verb To cause to feel self-conscious or ill at ease; disconcert.
  • transitive verb To hinder with obstacles or difficulties; impede.
  • transitive verb Archaic To involve in or hamper with financial difficulties.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To hamper or impede as with entanglements; encumber; render intricate or difficult; beset with difficulties; confuse or perplex, as conflicting circumstances, pecuniary complications, etc.: as, public affairs are embarrassed; want of order tends to embarrass business; the merchant is embarrassed by the unfavorable state of the market, or by his liabilities.
  • To perplex mentally; confuse the thoughts or perceptions of; discompose; disconcert; abash: as, an abrupt address may embarrass a young lady.
  • Synonyms To hinder, impede, obstruct, harass, distress, clog, hamper.
  • Embarrass, Puzzle, Perplex. To embarrass, literally, is to bar one's way, to impede one's progress in a particular direction, to hamper one's actions; hence, to make it difficult for one to know what is best to be done; also, to confuse or disconcert one so that one has not for a time one's usual judgment or presence of mind. To puzzle, literally, is to pose or give a hard question to, to put into a state of uncertainty where decision is difficult or impossible; it applies equally to opinion and to conduct. To perplex, literally, is to inclose, as in the meshes of a net, to entangle one's judgment so that one is at a loss what to think or how to act. Embarrass expresses most of uncomfortable feeling and mental confusion.

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

  • transitive verb To hinder from freedom of thought, speech, or action by something which impedes or confuses mental action; to make (a person) unpleasantly self-conscious; to perplex; to discompose; to disconcert.
  • transitive verb To hinder from liberty of movement; to impede; to obstruct
  • transitive verb (Com.) To involve in difficulties concerning money matters; to incumber with debt; to beset with urgent claims or demands; -- said of a person or his affairs.

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

  • verb transitive to humiliate; to disrupt somebody's composure or comfort with acting publicly or freely; to disconcert; to abash

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

  • verb cause to be embarrassed; cause to feel self-conscious
  • verb hinder or prevent the progress or accomplishment of


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

[French embarrasser, to encumber, hamper, from Spanish embarazar, from Italian imbarazzare, from imbarazzo, obstacle, obstruction, from imbarrare, to block, bar : in-, in (from Latin; see en–) + barra, bar (from Vulgar Latin *barra).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French embarrasser ("to block, to obstruct"), from Spanish embarazar, either


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  • i have such trouble spelling it. only in the last three years have i been able to get it right most of the time. same with occasionally.

    December 6, 2006

  • I love the way it spells "bare ass". When my ass is bare I am embarrassed.

    September 14, 2007