abashed; abashing; abashes

transitive verb

: to destroy the self-possession or self-confidence of (someone) : disconcert
He had never blushed in his life; no humiliation could abash him.Charlotte Brontë
abashment noun
… I turned to Susan, still sitting there huddled up in her coat, looking, to my abashment, as helpless as the day I had found her. Phillip Roth
Choose the Right Synonym for abash

embarrass, discomfit, abash, disconcert, rattle mean to distress by confusing or confounding.

embarrass implies some influence that impedes thought, speech, or action.

the question embarrassed her so much she couldn't answer

discomfit implies a hampering or frustrating accompanied by confusion.

hecklers discomfited the speaker

abash presupposes some initial self-confidence that receives a sudden check, producing shyness, shame, or a feeling of inferiority.

abashed by her swift and cutting retort

disconcert implies an upsetting of equanimity or assurance producing uncertainty or hesitancy.

disconcerted by finding so many in attendance

rattle implies an agitation that impairs thought and judgment.

rattled by all the television cameras

Examples of abash in a Sentence

felt terribly abashed when she walked into the wrong hotel room
Recent Examples on the Web Here, furious parents throw open the cupboard to reveal their daughter’s abashed lover, as younger children look on wide-eyed and the family dog prepares to attack. Susan Delson, WSJ, 20 June 2018 Bloom called him out, and the abashed Harris apologized. Christina Schoellkopf, latimes.com, 15 June 2018 Not easily abashed by body-shamers, Teigen has publicly posted next-to-naked topless photos in the past. Megan Decker, Harper's BAZAAR, 22 May 2018 Hefner was good-natured but rather abashed, diffident, and shy. Jeanie Pyun, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 Oct. 2017 Peverelli seemed slightly abashed at the images’ potential elevation from commerce to art. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 22 May 2017 But there is also a sort of confused, abashed one, often ironic, that acknowledges a problem and tries to work through a particularly American obliviousness. Jill McDonough, New York Times, 21 Apr. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'abash.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English abaissen, abaschen "to lose one's composure," borrowed from Anglo-French abaiss-, stem of abair "to open wide, gape, be amazed," alteration (by prefix substitution) of esbaer (Continental Old French esbahir), from es- "out" (going back to Latin ex-) + baer "to open wide, gape," going back to Vulgar Latin *batāre — more at ex- entry 1, abeyance

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of abash was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near abash

Cite this Entry

“Abash.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abash. Accessed 20 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to destroy the self-control or self-confidence of
abashment noun

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