First attested in 1303. From Middle English abaisen, abaishen, abashen (“to gape with surprise”) etc., from Anglo-Norman abaïss, from Middle French abair, abaisser (“to astonish, alter”), from Old French esbaïr, (French ébahir), from es- (“utterly”) + baïr (“to astonish”), from Latin ex- (“out of”) + baer (“to gape”), from batāre (“to yawn, gape”).
- Rhymes: -æʃ
- (transitive) To make ashamed; to embarrass; to destroy the self-possession of, as by exciting suddenly a consciousness of guilt, mistake, or inferiority; to disconcert; to discomfit. [First attested from around (1150 to 1350).]
- "He was a man whom no check could abash." (Can we date this quote by Thomas Babington Macaulay?)
- 1934, Agatha Christie, chapter 8, in Murder on the Orient Express, London: HarperCollins, published 2017, page 129:
- The stare seemed to abash Poirot.
- (intransitive, obsolete) To lose self-possession; to become ashamed. [Attested from around (1350 to 1470) until the late 16th century.]
- Of abash, confuse, confound: Abash is a stronger word than confuse, but not so strong as confound.
- We are abashed when struck either with sudden shame or with a humbling sense of inferiority; as, Peter was abashed by the look of his Master. So a modest youth is abashed in the presence of those who are greatly his superiors.
- We are confused when, from some unexpected or startling occurrence, we lose clearness of thought and self-possession. Thus, a witness is often confused by a severe cross-examination; a timid person is apt to be confused in entering a room full of strangers.
- We are confounded when our minds are overwhelmed, as it were, by something wholly unexpected, amazing, dreadful, etc., so that we have nothing to say. Thus, a criminal is usually confounded at the discovery of his guilt.
- Satan stood Awhile as mute, confounded what to say. – John Milton
- Lesley Brown (editor), The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 5th edition (Oxford University Press, 2003 , →ISBN), page 2
- ^ Philip Babcock Gove (editor), Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (G. & C. Merriam Co., 1976 , →ISBN), page 2
- ^ “abash” in Christine A. Lindberg, editor, The Oxford College Dictionary, 2nd edition, New York, N.Y.: Spark Publishing, 2002, →ISBN, page 2.