em·​bar·​rass·​ment | \im-ˈber-ə-smənt, -ˈba-rəs-\

Definition of embarrassment 

1a : something that embarrasses the scandal was a major embarrassment

b : an excessive quantity from which to select used especially in the phrase embarrassment of riches

2 : the state of being embarrassed: such as

a : confusion or disturbance of mind couldn't hide her embarrassment

b : difficulty arising from the want of money to pay debts

c : difficulty in functioning as a result of disease cardiac embarrassment

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of embarrassment in a Sentence

She couldn't hide her embarrassment. The scandal was a major embarrassment for the government. He's an embarrassment to his family.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

But the report also likely brought a measure of embarrassment to one workplace in particular. James Freeman, WSJ, "Ivanka Checks the ‘Fact Checker’," 6 July 2018 Her success almost seemed like a source of embarrassment. David Ritz, Billboard, "Janet Jackson Goes Deep on Her Early Challenges, Upcoming Music & the Joy of Motherhood," 17 May 2018 The disclosures proved to be a source of embarrassment for the Clinton campaign, muddying its message. Bloomberg.com, "DNC Sues Trump Campaign, WikiLeaks, Russia Over Election Interference," 20 Apr. 2018 The public breakdown of her engagement to Young was also a great source of embarrassment. Eve Barlow, GQ, "Can Iggy Azalea Be Her Own Savior?," 19 Apr. 2018 In addition to being a national embarrassment, Scott Pruitt likely committed one or more felonies. Emily Atkin, The New Republic, "Did Scott Pruitt’s secret calendars break the law?," 5 July 2018 Many fans felt the team was a national embarrassment. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "How Russia Gave Itself a Facelift for the World Cup," 4 July 2018 As Ars reported back in May, with more than 8,000 CIA documents published to date, according to a defense attorney at the January 2018 hearing, the Vault 7 series came as a major embarrassment to US intelligence officials. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Man who allegedly gave Vault 7 cache to WikiLeaks busted by poor opsec," 19 June 2018 The breach, known as the Vault 7 leak, was a major embarrassment to the C.I.A. and set off a furious hunt to identify who was behind the 2017 disclosure. Adam Goldman, New York Times, "New Charges in Huge C.I.A. Breach Known as Vault 7," 18 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'embarrassment.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of embarrassment

1676, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about embarrassment

Share embarrassment

Statistics for embarrassment

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for embarrassment

The first known use of embarrassment was in 1676

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for embarrassment



English Language Learners Definition of embarrassment

: the state of feeling foolish in front of others

: something or someone that causes a person or group to look or feel foolish

: a very large number of things from which to choose


em·​bar·​rass·​ment | \im-ˈber-əs-mənt \

Kids Definition of embarrassment

1 : something that causes a person or group to feel foolish The poor test scores were an embarrassment to the school.

2 : the condition of feeling foolish in front of others I couldn't hide my embarrassment over the mistake.


em·​bar·​rass·​ment | \im-ˈbar-ə-smənt \

Medical Definition of embarrassment 

: difficulty in functioning as a result of disease cardiac embarrassment respiratory embarrassment

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on embarrassment

What made you want to look up embarrassment? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express warning or disapproval

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!