mauvaise honte

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From French mauvaise honte.


mauvaise honte (uncountable)

  1. Bashfulness, shyness.
    • 1826, Henry Digby Beste, Four Years in France, Henry Colburn (publisher), pages 240–242, quoted in The Monthly Review, Volume III, Number XI (September 1826), page 95:
      The practice, from whatever it may arise, is very embarrassing to the mauvaise honte of an Englishman: this may easily be surmounted, when it is perceived that the first visit is always considered as a polite attention.
    • 1831 June 18, Elizabeth Cleghhorn Stevenson, a letter to Harriet Carr, printed in John Chapple and Alan Shelston (editors), Further Letters of Mrs. Gaskell, Manchester University Press (2003), →ISBN, page 3:
      So much for Miss Jaques, only as far as I could judge from seeing her in a ball-room, she never evinced any extreme of mauvaise honte – What did you think, mia cara?
    • 1831, Thomas Babington Macaulay, letter to Hannah M. Macaulay, printed in George Otto Trevelyan, The Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay, Volume I, Longmans, Green, and Co. (publishers, 1876), page 239:
      Nothing but strong excitement and a great occasion overcomes a certain reserve and mauvaise honte which I have in public speaking; not a mauvaise honte which in the least confuses me or makes me hesitate for a word, but which keeps me from putting any fervour into my tone or my action.
    • 1848 January, Frederic Wonham, Mauvaise Honte, in The People's Press, edited by William Shirrefs, No. 13, Vol. 11, page 104:
      This writer was the victim of the most crushing mauvaise honte, and could therefore describe it from experience.


  • Merriam-Webster Online [1]
  • 1892, The Stanford dictionary of anglicised words and phrases, by John Frederick Stanford and C. A. M. Fennell, page 532: "mauvaise honte, phr.: Fr.: false shame, false modesty, painful shyness"



  • IPA(key): /mo.vɛ.zə ɔ̃t/, /mɔ.vɛ.zə ɔ̃t/


mauvaise honte f (usually uncountable, plural mauvaises hontes)

  1. bashfulness
    • p. 1610, a. 1710, Paul Scarron, A Madame Celeste de Palaiseau, in Œuvres, volume I:
      Par je ne sais quelle bonté, ou, si l’on veut, mauvaise honte, je n’ai pas la force de rien refuser de ce que l’on me demande avec opiniâtreté.
      By some kindness, or mauvaise honte if you will, I don't have the force to refuse anything that is asked of me firmly.
    • 1673, Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, Épîtres (Epistles), Épitre III:
      Mais aucun de ces maux n’égala les rigueurs
      Que la mauvaise honte exerça dans les cœurs.
      But none of these ills was equal to the rigors
      That mauvaise honte exercises in the heart.
    • 1687, François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon, Éducation des filles, chapter 9:
      La mauvaise honte est le mal le plus dangereux et le plus pressé à guérir.
      Mauvaise honte is the most dangerous vice, and the most urgent to cure.
    • p. 1712, a. 1766, François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon, Dialogues des morts ancien dial., 45:
      Ce n’est pas le vrai honneur, c’est une mauvaise honte qui me retient.
      It's not true honor, but a mauvaise honte that holds me back.
    • 1731, Voltaire, Charles XII, 8:
      Il [Charles XII] avait conservé, dans l’inflexibilité de son caractère, cette timidité qu’on nomme mauvaise honte.
      He [Charles XII] had conserved, in the inflexibility of his personality, this timidity that we call mauvaise honte.
    • 1780, Thibault de Laveaux (translator), Desiderius Erasmus (author), Éloge de la folie:
      Retenus par une mauvaise honte, ils n'osent pas se louer eux-mêmes, mais ils attirent ordinairement auprès d'eux quelque panégyriste doucereux, quelque poète hâbleur qui, pour de l'argent s'engage à les louer, c'est à dire à leur débiter des mensonges.
      Restrained by a mauvaise honte, they didn't dare praise themselves, but they ordinarily gathered around themselves some saccharine sycophant, some exaggerating poet who for money set about praising them, that is, peddling lies to them.