Definition of embarrass in English:



[with object]
  • 1Cause (someone) to feel awkward, self-conscious, or ashamed.

    ‘she wouldn't embarrass either of them by making a scene’
    • ‘Her scarred face attracted attention; it baffled, confused and embarrassed people.’
    • ‘So, in order to maintain any dignity, I have fomented instead my Macchiavellian plot to discomfit and embarrass David Bowie and myself.’
    • ‘Public opinion embarrassed him until he agreed, under threat of a writ of habeas to force a court hearing, that his mother could be released.’
    • ‘Murdock had stuck Mikey and I with the scene where Poppy runs off after Luciano embarrasses her in public, and Luciano follows her and admits his undying love.’
    • ‘I prefer a woman, and a political philosophy, that won't embarrass me in public.’
    • ‘In fact, the sages asserted that someone who embarrasses another person in public is akin to a murderer.’
    • ‘Okay, for those of my readers who have children, how often have your kids embarrassed you in public?’
    • ‘The message is clear: there will be no room for players who break the rules and embarrass the team in public.’
    • ‘So even when the gray haired man I sometimes call my father in public embarrasses me a lot, I love him all the same.’
    • ‘Regardless of the age of the husband, the relatives give themselves the right to discipline him, scold, restrain, monitor, and embarrass him in public.’
    • ‘Mathers gave Jeffreys the sort of look a mother gave an ill mannered child that had embarrassed her in public.’
    • ‘I had only seen him like this once before, when he planned his revenge on another lord who had embarrassed him in public.’
    • ‘Max humiliates and embarrasses me all the time, so I don't know, this made me happy.’
    • ‘Paul has the kind of parents that embarrass you in public and don't care if people are looking, but don't get him wrong he still loves them.’
    • ‘And I meant that on SO many levels, levels you will certainly understand once you figure out how to purposefully embarrass me in public.’
    • ‘Except that once in a while she has too much to drink, and embarrasses him in public.’
    shame, humiliate, make ashamed, demean, abash
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1be embarrassed Be caused financial difficulties.
      ‘he would be embarrassed by estate duty’
  • 2archaic Hamper or impede (a person or action)

    ‘the state of the rivers will embarrass the enemy’
    1. 2.1 Make difficult or intricate; complicate.
      ‘I do not apprehend that this case will be embarrassed by that decision’


Early 17th century (in embarrass (sense 2 of the verb)): from French embarrasser, from Spanish embarazar, probably from Portuguese embaraçar (from baraço ‘halter’).