verb (used with object)
- to cause confusion and shame to; make uncomfortably self-conscious; disconcert; abash: His bad table manners embarrassed her.
- to make difficult or intricate, as a question or problem; complicate.
- to put obstacles or difficulties in the way of; impede: The motion was advanced in order to embarrass the progress of the bill.
- to beset with financial difficulties; burden with debt: The decline in sales embarrassed the company.
verb (used without object)
- to become disconcerted, abashed, or confused.
verb (mainly tr)
- (also intr) to feel or cause to feel confusion or self-consciousness; disconcert; fluster
- (usually passive) to involve in financial difficulties
- archaic to make difficult; complicate
- archaic to impede; obstruct; hamper
“perplexed, confused,” 1680s, past participle adjective from embarrass.
1670s, “perplex, throw into doubt,” from French embarrasser (16c.), literally “to block,” from embarras “obstacle,” from Italian imbarrazzo, from imbarrare “to bar,” from in- “into, upon” (see in- (2)) + Vulgar Latin *barra “bar.”
Meaning “hamper, hinder” is from 1680s. Meaning “make (someone) feel awkward” first recorded 1828. Original sense preserved in embarras de richesse (1751), from French (1726): the condition of having more wealth than one knows what to do with. Related: Embarrassed; embarrassing; embarrassingly.