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For the first time, I am ashamed to be a German. ~ Wilhelm II of Germany‎‎

Shame is regarded variously as an affect, emotion, cognition, state, or condition of embarrassment, dishonor, disgrace, inadequacy, humiliation, or chagrin. The roots of the word shame are thought to derive from an older word meaning to cover; as such, covering oneself, literally or figuratively, is a natural expression of shame. "To shame" generally means to actively assign or communicate a state of shame to another. Behaviors designed to "uncover" or "expose" others are sometimes used for this purpose, as are utterances like "Shame!" or "Shame on you!" Finally, to "have shame" means to maintain a sense of restraint against offending others (as with modesty, humility, and deference) while to "have no shame" is to behave without such restraint (as with excessive pride or hubris).


  • You do not wish to name Zeus, who had done it, and who made
    all things grow, for where there is fear there is also shame.
  • Antony, however, according to his custom, returned alone to his own cell, increased his discipline, and sighed daily as he thought of the mansions in Heaven, having his desire fixed on them, and pondering over the shortness of man's life. And he used to eat and sleep, and go about all other bodily necessities with shame when he thought of the spiritual faculties of the soul. So often, when about to eat with any other hermits, recollecting the spiritual food, he begged to be excused, and departed far off from them, deeming it a matter for shame if he should be seen eating by others.
  • A nightingale dies for shame if another bird sings better.
    • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Part I, Section II. Memb. 3. Subsec. 6.
  • Love taught him shame, and shame, with love at strife,
    Soon taught the sweet civilities of life.
  • The only art her guilt to cover,
    To hide her shame from every eye,
    To give repentance to her lover,
    And wring his bosom, is—to die.
  • A shamefaced man makes a bad beggar.
    • Homer, The Odyssey (8th century BC), chapter XVII, line 78.
  • Yet of old the matter seemed even to be a law, and a certain law-giver among them bade the domestic slaves neither to use ointments when dry (i.e. except in bathing) nor to keep youths, giving the free this place of honor, or rather of shamefulness. Yet they, however, did not think the thing shameful, but as being a grand privilege, and one too great for slaves, the Athenian people, the wisest of people, and Solon who is so great among them, permitted it to the free alone. And sundry other books of the philosophers may one see full of this disease. But we do not therefore say that the thing was made lawful, but that they who received this law were pitiable, and objects for many tears. For these are treated in the same way as women that play the whore. Or rather their plight is more miserable. For in the case of the one the intercourse, even if lawless, is yet according to nature: but this is contrary both to law and nature. For even if there were no hell, and no punishment had been threatened, this were worse than any punishment. Yet if you say they found pleasure in it, you tell me what adds to the vengeance. For suppose I were to see a person running naked, with his body all besmeared with mire, and yet not covering himself, but exulting in it, I should not rejoice with him, but should rather bewail that he did not even perceive that he was doing shamefully.
  • Pudet hæc opprobria nobis
    Et dici potuisse et non potuisse repelli.
    • I am not ashamed that these reproaches can be cast upon us, and that they can not be repelled.
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses (AD 8), Book I. 758.
  • Here shame dissuades him, there his fear prevails,
    And each by turns his aching heat assails.
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses (AD 8), Book III. Transformation of Actæon, line 73. Addison's translation.
  • All is confounded, all!
    Reproach and everlasting shame
    Sits mocking in our plumes.
  • He was not born to shame:
    Upon his brow shame was asham'd to sit;
    For 'tis a throne where honour may be crown'd
    Sole monarch of the universal earth.
  • We live in an atmosphere of shame. We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinion, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 702.
  • Shame is an ornament to the young; a disgrace to the old.
  • Maggior difetto men vergogna lava.
    • Less shame a greater fault would palliate.
    • Dante Alighieri, Inferno, XXX. 142.
  • If yet not lost to all the sense of shame.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book VI, line 350. Pope's translation.
  • Næ simul pudere quod non oportet cœperit; quod oportet non pudebit.
    • As soon as she (woman) begins to be ashamed of what she ought not, she will not be ashamed of what she ought.
    • Livy, Annales, XXXIV. 4.
  • Pessimus quidem pudor vel est parsimoniæ vel frugalitatis.
    • The worst kind of shame is being ashamed of frugality or poverty.
    • Livy, Annales, XXXIV. 4.
  • Nam ego illum periisse duco, cui quidem periit pudor.
    • I count him lost, who is lost to shame.
    • Plautus, Bacchides, III. 3. 80.
  • The most curious offspring of shame is shyness.

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