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Language tip of the week: embarrass someone

Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of language tips to accompany the Real Vocabulary theme we look at how you can expand your vocabulary in English by using different words and expressions instead of core vocabulary items.

This set of language tips will explore different ways to talk about emotions. This week’s tip looks at verbs that mean to make someone feel embarrassed:



embarrass someone to make someone feel nervous, ashamed, or stupid in a social situation:
It embarrassed me to have to speak in front of the other students. ♦ I don’t want to embarrass you in front of everyone. 
humiliate to make someone feel very embarrassed and ashamed, especially by treating them badly in public:
He humiliated me in front of my friends. ♦ She likes humiliating her employees.
mortify someone to make someone feel extremely embarrassed and ashamed:
He is afraid of making some mistake that will mortify him in front of everyone.
Mortify is much less frequent than the adjectives mortified and mortifying.
shame someone to make someone feel embarrassed or guilty:

The behaviour of the fans has shamed the team. ♦ They have been threatened and publicly shamed.
show someone up to behave in a way that makes someone you are with feel embarrassed. This is a British expression:
He was angry at being shown up by a 13 year old. ♦ Please don’t show me up in front of my family.

Did you know that Macmillan Dictionary includes a full thesaurus? This page lists more ways to say ‘to make someone feel embarrassed‘.

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Liz Potter

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