Meaning of “shame” in the English Dictionary

"shame" in British English

See all translations


uk /ʃeɪm/ us /ʃeɪm/

shame noun (BAD LUCK)

A2 [ S ] If something is described as a shame, it is disappointing or not satisfactory:

[ + that ] It's a (great/real) shame that the event had to be cancelled.
[ + to infinitive ] Have some more vegetables - it would be a shame to waste them.
"Douglas had to miss the school concert because he was ill." "Oh, what a shame/that's a shame!"

More examples

  • What a shame that you couldn't go to the party.
  • "I'm afraid I can't come tonight." " Oh, that's a shame."
  • It's such a shame they shut that factory down.
  • "Go on, finish off this tart, Paul." "Well, it seems a shame to let it go to waste."
  • It seems a shame to miss such a nice occasion.

shame noun (BAD FEELING)

C1 [ U ] an uncomfortable feeling of guilt or of being ashamed because of your own or someone else's bad behaviour:

He said he felt no shame for what he had done.
The children hung/bowed their heads in shame.
The shame of the scandal was so great that he shot himself a few weeks later.
You can't go out dressed like that - have you no shame (= don't you feel ashamed about being dressed like that)?

[ U ] loss of honour and respect:

He thinks there's great shame in being out of work and unable to provide for his family.
In some societies, if a woman leaves her husband, it brings shame on her and her family.
put sb to shame

UK to make someone feel ashamed:

It puts me to shame that I still haven't replied to David's letter.
to my shame

I feel ashamed because:

To my shame, I never wrote and thanked Mary for her present.
shame on you

used to tell someone that they should feel sorry for something they did:

Shame on you for being so mean.
humorous You were in town and you didn't come and see us - shame on you!

More examples

  • He knew he'd done something wrong and hung his head in shame.
  • He went scarlet with shame and embarrassment.
  • Her face burned with shame.
  • The shame of losing a game of tennis to my mother!
  • I couldn't treat anyone so badly - I couldn't bear the shame.


shameverb [ T ]

uk /ʃeɪm/ us /ʃeɪm/

shame verb [ T ] (BAD FEELING)

to make someone feel ashamed, or to make someone or something lose honour and respect:

It shames me that I treated her so badly.
The behaviour of a few children has shamed the whole school.

to publicly criticize and draw attention to something someone has done, especially on the internet:

A girl has shamed her library for saying she couldn't take part in a "boys only" robotics course.
shame sb into/out of sth

to cause someone to do or not to do something by making them feel ashamed:

[ + -ing verb ] The city council was shamed into taking action after criticism in the national and local media.


uk /ʃeɪm/ us /ʃeɪm/ mainly UK

(Definition of “shame” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"shame" in American English

See all translations

shamenoun [ U ]

us /ʃeɪm/

shame noun [ U ] (GUILT)

an uncomfortable feeling of guilt or of being ashamed because of your own or someone else’s bad behavior:

He pointed out that society needed to restore a sense of shame about certain things.

shame noun [ U ] (MISFORTUNE)

an unlucky or disappointing situation:

What a shame that they left just before we arrived.
[ + to infinitive ] Have some more vegetables – it would be a shame to waste them.


shameverb [ T ]

us /ʃeɪm/

to make someone feel guilty or ashamed:

My aunt told us that in her day women who weren’t married by the age of 25 were considered "old maids" and were so shamed by their families that they would do anything to get married.

(Definition of “shame” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

Blogs about "shame"

by katewoodford,