I can safely say that many people live their lives in a permanent state of embarrassment. As anybody who has studied English as a second language will have learned (painfully in some cases) there are words that mean the same thing, and words that have many meanings. According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word “embarrassment” has four different meanings:
VERB – [WITH OBJECT]
- cause (someone) to feel awkward, self-conscious, or ashamed: she wouldn’t embarrass either of them by making a scene
- (be embarrassed) be caused financial difficulties: he would be embarrassed by estate duty
- archaic hamper or impede (a person or action):
the state of the rivers will embarrass the enemy
- archaic make difficult or intricate; complicate: I do not apprehend that this case will be embarrassed by that decision
Origin – early 17th century from French embarrasser, from Spanish embarazar, probably from Portuguese embaraçar (from baraço ‘halter’).
With the above in mind, here is my week so far:
Monday (early) – Embarrassed for ready cash, I reacted by explaining to the milkman that I’ve got to visit an ATM before I can pay him.
Monday (at work)– I suffered embarrassment from the complexities of preparing a business specification for some reports we need to developed to get information from our online service.
My reaction was to swear, grumble, revisit our needs analysis, write up the document and get a second opinion from a colleague. Then I grumbled a bit more.
Tuesday – at our staff day, long-service awards were distributed – the award was lovely to receive, and really welcome, but it did involve trundling up to a podium, shaking the President’s hand and getting a photo taken for the staff newsletter.
Cue my best “rabbit in the headlights” imitation.
Wednesday: Navigating the narrow hallway in my house, I was embarrassed by a blockade of dogs seeking my attention.
What else could I do but engage in a group hug with my hounds.