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RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Is there a single word to describe the feeling of embarrassment that one can have for someone else?

Asked by RealEyesRealizeRealLies (30938points) May 3rd, 2010

If I’m embarrassed for myself, then I say I’m embarrassed. But is there a single word to describe my embarrassment for my mother when she acts crazy in public? I guess I’m embarrassed for myself, but I’m also embarrassed for her too.

Is there word for that?

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12 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Not in English. For me, discomfiture has a connotative meaning of embarrassment because of the actions of others, but it is not denotative.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

So you’re ashamed of her? That’s usually what that feeling is.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

No I’m not ashamed of my mother. She’s done nothing shameful. But she does have the ability to give people cause for thinking her foolish and immature. I’m embarrassed for her. I’m not ashamed of her.

I like discomfiture. Do you have suggestions in other languages?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

That word is mother-in-law in my world ;))

sleepdoc's avatar

I guess I always say, “wow that has got to be embarassing”.

rebbel's avatar

Okay, it’s two words, but i thought of the Dutch word for it, that i use myself, and Wikipedia gave me this translation: Vicarious shame.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Am I wrong to assume that embarrassment and shame are not synonyms?

I’d be more inclined to use vicarious embarrassment.

marinelife's avatar

Embarrassment is something someone else knows about whereas shame does not have to be known by others.

ucme's avatar


Supacase's avatar

I know exactly what you mean. I never thought about if there is a word for it, but it is definitely not shame.

casheroo's avatar

I call it second hand embarrassment.

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