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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Abash \A*bash"\ ([.a]*b[a^]sh"), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Abashed ([.a]*b[a^]sht"); p. pr. & vb. n. Abashing.] [OE. abaissen, abaisshen, abashen, OF. esbahir, F. ['e]bahir, to astonish, fr. L. ex + the interjection bah, expressing astonishment. In OE. somewhat confused with abase. Cf. Finish.] To destroy the self-possession of; to confuse or confound, as by exciting suddenly a consciousness of guilt, mistake, or inferiority; to put to shame; to disconcert; to discomfit.

Abashed, the devil stood, And felt how awful goodness is.

He was a man whom no check could abash.

Syn: To confuse; confound; disconcert; shame.

Usage: To Abash, Confuse, Confound. Abash is a stronger word than confuse, but not so strong as confound. We are abashed when struck either with sudden shame or with a humbling sense of inferiority; as, Peter was abashed by the look of his Master. So a modest youth is abashed in the presence of those who are greatly his superiors. We are confused when, from some unexpected or startling occurrence, we lose clearness of thought and self-possession. Thus, a witness is often confused by a severe cross-examination; a timid person is apt to be confused in entering a room full of strangers. We are confounded when our minds are overwhelmed, as it were, by something wholly unexpected, amazing, dreadful, etc., so that we have nothing to say. Thus, a criminal is usually confounded at the discovery of his guilt.

Satan stood Awhile as mute, confounded what to say.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"perplex, embarrass," early 15c., earlier "lose one's composure, be upset" (late 14c.), from Old French esbaiss-, present stem of esbaer "gape with astonishment," from es "out" (see ex-) + ba(y)er "to be open, gape," from Latin *batare "to yawn, gape," from root *bat, possibly imitative of yawning. Related: Abashed; abashing. Bashful is a 16c. derivative.


vb. 1 (context transitive English) To make ashamed; to embarrass; to destroy the self-possession of, as by exciting suddenly a consciousness of guilt, mistake, or inferiority; to disconcert; to discomfit. (First attested from around (1150 to 1350).) 2 (context intransitive obsolete English) To lose self-possession; to become ashamed. (Attested from around (1350 to 1470) until the late 16th century.)


v : cause to be embarrassed; cause to feel self-conscious [syn: embarrass]

Usage examples of "abash".

I naturally began to laugh, but on her mother calling the girl a little fool, and the brother adding that he had never committed such an indiscretion, the poor child began to tremble all over, and looked abashed.

She came back, abashed at the idea that she had proved herself rather knowing, and at the dread of having perhaps given a wrong interpretation to an action which might have been, on my part, perfectly innocent, or the result of politeness.

The Colonel and the Escapee, snug in a smoking compartment on the way to Khabarovsk, caught the echoes and found abashed smiles creeping across their faces.

But he was within eyeshot of the walls, and the thought of his own self-pity abashed him.

Here the young painter stopped short, abashed at that indiscretion of enthusiasm about to utter to another the hoarded vanities hitherto locked in his heart of hearts as a sealed secret, almost from himself.

Instead of rewarding him for his arduous journey, the Naib had sent his abashed young grandson off to his quarters alone.

And when I had washed and wiped my selfe, and returned home againe, I never remembred any such thing, so greatly was I abashed at the nodding and pointing of every person.

It seemed strangely incongruous and almost comical to Brewster that such an imposing and fearsome-looking giant should be so deferential to a man who barely stood higher than his kneecaps, and yet Bloody Bob stood there, squinting down and shuffling his foot in the dirt and looking very much abashed.

He laughed so genuinely and with such thorough enjoyment that Portia, somewhat abashed, laughed too.

On entering the House, he is described to have appeared abashed and pale: he passed the woolsack without looking round, and advanced to the table where the proper officer was attending to administer the oaths.

Merle Bowley stood beside an abashed and rueful Horseface Charley and regarded the dead man sprawled on the roadway, part of his head blown away by one of the large explosive rifle bullets.

As they emerged from the cars, Sirius hugged Harry and Ron and Ginny and even Draco Malfoy, who was somewhat abashed.

Around them at the different tables there were groups of faces and figures fascinating in their strangeness, with that distinction which abashes our American level in the presence of European inequality.

Jaryd felt his initial anger sluicing away, leaving him somewhat abashed by his awareness that Baden was right: he had expected this to be easy.

But then in equally paradoxical contrast have a look at the next Advanced Basics speaker this tall baggy sack of a man, also painfully new, but this poor bastard here completely and openly nerve-racked, wobbling his way up to the front, his face shiny with sweat and his talk full of blank cunctations and disassociated leaps as the guy speaks with terrible abashed chagrin about trying to hang on to his job Out There as his A.