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1. The act of humiliating; degradation.
2. The state of being humiliated or disgraced; shame.
3. A humiliating condition or circumstance.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(hyuˌmɪl iˈeɪ ʃən; often yu-)

1. an act or instance of humiliating or being humiliated.
2. the state or feeling of being humiliated.
[1350–1400; Middle English < Late Latin]
syn: See shame.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



cut [someone’s] comb To humiliate or humble; to degrade, to take down a peg or two. This expression, which dates from the mid-1500s, is said to allude to the supposed practice of cutting the fleshy red combs of roosters in order to humble their pride.

eat crow To be forced to do or say something distasteful and humiliating; to eat one’s words or eat humble pie; to be compelled to confess wrongdoing or to back down. This colloquial expression of American origin and its variant eat boiled crow were used as early as the mid-19th century. The most popular story explaining this expression tells of an American soldier in the War of 1812 who killed a crow for sport. Its owner reacted by forcing him to eat the dead crow at gunpoint. After a few bites, the soldier was released, whereupon he turned his gun on his foe and forced him to eat the remaining portion. Later, the soldier’s only comment was that he and the other party had “dined” together. Today, eat crow continues to be a popular picturesque expression.

eat humble pie To come down off one’s high horse, swallow one’s pride, and submit to mortification and humiliation; to be forced to apologize and defer to others; to eat crow, to eat dirt, or to eat one’s words. In this expression, humble derives from the obsolete umbles ‘heart, liver, and entrails of the deer.’ Apparently these parts were considered leftovers suitable only for the huntsman and other servants. When the lord and his company feasted on venison, the others ate the umbles that had been made into a pie. Thus, “umble pie” was suggestive of poverty and lowly status. Since humble also connotes lowliness and subservience, the simple fact of confusion gave rise to eat humble pie, used as early as the beginning of the 19th century.

eat one’s words See RECANTATION.

go to Canossa To humble one-self, to submit one-self to humiliation. In January of 1077, Pope Gregory VII stayed for a time at the castle of Canossa in Italy on his way to Germany to take action against the excommunicated Henry IV, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. To forestall this event, Henry IV made the pilgrimage to Canossa where he was kept waiting outside, exposed to the harshness of the elements, for three days before receiving absolution from the Pope. This example of secular submission to Church authority gave rise to the expression in question, now used in the general sense of submitting one-self to humiliation.

put [someone’s] nose out of joint To arouse someone’s anger or resentment by replacing him in the affection or esteem of another; to humiliate, to spoil or upset someone’s plans, to thwart.

The King is pleased enough with her: which, I fear, will put Madam Castlemaine’s nose out of joint. (Samuel Pepys, Diary, 1662)

It is easy to see how the literal out of joint ‘dislocated, out of place’ gave rise to the figurative ‘supplanted, superseded.’

rub [someone’s] nose in it To persistently humiliate a person by reminding him of a fault or error. This expression may have derived from the canine housebreaking technique of placing the pet’s nose close to its mistake in hope of discouraging future indoor accidents. As used today, the expression implies unmerciful harping and castigation over a relatively minor mishap.

I’m sorry. I’ve said I’m sorry. Don’t rub my nose in it. (P. M. Hubbart, Flush as May, 1963)

take down a peg To humble, to lower someone in his own or another’s estimation; to snub or put down. In print since the 16th century, this expression is said to derive from the raising or lowering of a ship’s colors, or flag, by pegs, to mark the importance of an occasion—the higher the colors, the greater the honor, and vice versa. Another theory is that peg originally referred to the notches inside a cup to indicate each person’s share. To take someone down a peg meant to drink his share. Today take down a notch is a common variant.

I must take that proud girl down a peg. (Mrs. Humphrey Ward, Marceña, 1894)

with egg on one’s face Embarrassed or humiliated by some mistake; in the wrong, guilty. The origin of this expression is unknown. It may have derived from an audience’s practice of throwing rotten eggs at actors during an especially poor performance. Another possible derivation is of a more agrarian nature. Weasels, foxes, and other such animals are known for their habit of sneaking into henhouses at night to suck eggs. To come out with egg on their faces would display to all the evidence of their wrongdoing.

with one’s tail between one’s legs Ashamed, humiliated, disgraced, embarrassed; cowed, dejected, beaten; afraid, scared.

We shall have you back here very soon … with your tail between your legs. (William E. Norris, Thirlby Hall, 1884)

A dog, disgraced by having lost the scent on a hunt or embarrassed at being caught doing something forbidden, returns to its master with its tail hanging between its legs instead of triumphantly wagging on high.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.humiliation - state of disgrace or loss of self-respecthumiliation - state of disgrace or loss of self-respect
disgrace, ignominy, shame - a state of dishonor; "one mistake brought shame to all his family"; "suffered the ignominy of being sent to prison"
abasement, abjection, degradation - a low or downcast state; "each confession brought her into an attitude of abasement"- H.L.Menchken
2.humiliation - strong feelings of embarrassmenthumiliation - strong feelings of embarrassment  
embarrassment - the shame you feel when your inadequacy or guilt is made public
3.humiliation - an instance in which you are caused to lose your prestige or self-respect; "he had to undergo one humiliation after another"
case, instance, example - an occurrence of something; "it was a case of bad judgment"; "another instance occurred yesterday"; "but there is always the famous example of the Smiths"
4.humiliation - depriving one of self-esteemhumiliation - depriving one of self-esteem  
degradation, debasement - changing to a lower state (a less respected state)
comedown - decline to a lower status or level
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


noun embarrassment, shame, disgrace, humbling, put-down, degradation, affront, indignity, chagrin, ignominy, dishonour, mortification, loss of face, abasement, self-abasement She faced the humiliation of discussing her husband's affair.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


1. A lowering in or deprivation of character or self-esteem:
2. Loss of or damage to one's reputation:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
إذْلال، تَحْقير
aşağılamaküçük düşürme


[hjuːmɪlɪˈeɪʃən] Nhumillación f
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[hjuːˌmɪliˈeɪʃən] nhumiliation f
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nDemütigung f, → Erniedrigung f; (because of one’s own actions) → Beschämung f no pl; much to my humiliationsehr zu meiner Schande or Beschämung; she couldn’t hide her humiliationsie konnte das Gefühl der Demütigung/Beschämung nicht verbergen; the result is a humiliation for the prime ministerdas Ergebnis ist eine demütigende Niederlage für den Premierminister
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[hjuːˌmɪlɪˈeɪʃn] numiliazione f
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(hjuˈmilieit) verb
to make (someone) feel ashamed. He was humiliated to find that his girlfriend could run faster than he could.
huˈmiliating adjective
huˌmiliˈation noun
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
These piteous wrecks that are my comrades here say we have reached the bottom of the scale, the final humiliation; they say that when a horse is no longer worth the weeds and discarded rubbish they feed to him, they sell him to the bull-ring for a glass of brandy, to make sport for the people and perish for their pleasure.
The brothers withdrew entirely from society, and nursed their humiliation in privacy.
It was her hour of humiliation and self-contempt and shame.
She says, says she, `Well, Providence sends seasons of humiliation to a country, same as to individuals.
To me the convalescent would it now be suffering and torment to believe in such phantoms: suffering would it now be to me, and humiliation. Thus speak I to backworldsmen.
Looking at him, she had a physical sense of her humiliation, and she could say nothing more.
I must know what is the foul speech that I am liable to be the victim of," said Bulstrode, a certain amount of anger beginning to mingle with his humiliation before this quiet man who renounced his benefits.
I have endured everything here but humiliation. That I have happily been spared--until this day.'
Would he on any occasion either have demanded or have received the like humiliation from Spain, or Britain, or any other POWERFUL nation?
It is the malicious pleasure of the East Wind to augment the power of your eyesight, in order, perhaps, that you should see better the perfect humiliation, the hopeless character of your captivity.
I must torment my sister-in-law for the insolent triumph of her look and manner since Sir James has been dismissed; for, in reconciling Reginald to me, I was not able to save that ill-fated young man; and I must make myself amends for the humiliation to which I have stooped within these few days.
It was that which rankled with Philip: he could not bear the humiliation of apologies, which were wrung from him by pain greater than he could bear.