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From Middle English abaishment, from Middle French abaissement (astonishment) alteration of esbaissement, from esbaiss + -ment.[1] Compare French ébahissement. Equivalent to abash +‎ -ment.



abashment (countable and uncountable, plural abashments)

  1. The state of being abashed; embarrassment from shame. [First attested from 1350 to 1470.][2]
    • 1540, Myles Coverdale (translator), The Byble in Englyshe, London: Thomas Berthelet, Deuteronomy 28[.28][1]
      And the lorde shall smyte the with madnesse, and blyndnesse & abashment of herte.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, London: William Ponsonbie, Book 3, Canto 8, p. 521,[2]
      For her faint hart was with the frosen cold
      Benumbd so inly, that her wits nigh fayld,
      And all her sences with abashment quite were quayld.
    • 1768, Henry Brooke, The Fool of Quality, Dublin: for the author, Volume 3, Chapter 13, pp. 35-36,[3]
      On my appearing her Spirits again took the Alarm. She scarce ventured a Glance toward me. I was greatly pained by the Abashment under which I saw she laboured, and I hastened to relieve myself as well as her from the Distress.
    • 1940, Richard Wright, Native Son, London: Jonathan Cape, 1970, Book 2, p. 185,[4]
      “Did he say he would let you meet some white women if you joined the reds?”
      He knew that sex relations between blacks and whites were repulsive to most white men.
      “Nawsuh,” he said, simulating abashment.
    • 2014, Don Gutteridge, Death of a Patriot, New York: Simon & Schuster, Chapter 8, p. 104,[5]
      [] Marc, who well knew the pangs and abashments of romantic love, recognized the emotions here as genuine and heartfelt and was encouraged.



  1. ^ Philip Babcock Gove (editor), Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (G. & C. Merriam Co., 1976 [1909], →ISBN), page 2
  2. ^ “abashment”, in Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors, The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2002, →ISBN, page 2.