AskDefine | Define humiliate

Dictionary Definition

humiliate v : cause to feel shame; hurt the pride of; "He humiliated his colleague by criticising him in front of the boss" [syn: mortify, chagrin, humble, abase]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • From Latin humus, "dirt", "soil" (to reduce someone to the ground)


  • /hjuːˈmɪliˌeɪt/, /hju:"mɪli%eɪt/


  1. To injure a person's dignity and self-respect.


to humiliate

Extensive Definition

Humiliation is the abasement of pride; mortification. The state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission. It is thus the process of being made humble. It can be brought about through bullying, intimidation, physical or mental mistreatment or trickery and embarrassment.

Humiliation of the self

Whereas humility can be sought alone as a means to de-emphasise the ego, humiliation must involve other person(s), though not necessarily directly or willingly. Acting to humiliate yourself may be linked to a personal belief (as with mortification of the flesh), or it can be part of erotic humiliation where the belittling activity provides emotional and/or sexual arousal.

Humiliation of others

Humiliation by one person by another (the humiliator) is often used as a way of asserting power over them, and is a common form of oppression, bullying or abuse. However, it can also be consensual, as part of an agreement with a sex partner over erotic humiliation. Whilst in either case, it may posssibly be motivated by sadism, most often it is not. In a non sexual context humiliation may be used as a form of torture or may even, as with bullying, not be a wholly conscious aim and may be seen(erroneously) by the humiliator as justifiable behaviour under the circumstances. Many punishments are deliberately designed to be humiliating, e.g. tarring and feathering, pillory, mark of infamy (stigma) as a means of "making an example" of a persona and presenting a deterrent to others.

Humiliation in sport

Humiliation in sport can be regarded as defeat by a large margin - unless the opposing team has so much better circumstances that such a defeat is seen as unavoidable, such as a national team of a very small country losing against a much larger country. In particular a defeat suffered without some believable effort to prevent it, a defeat suffered by simply refusing to fight back, can cause complete loss of face or dignity by a person or team.

External links


humiliate in German: Demütigung
humiliate in French: Humiliation
humiliate in Hebrew: השפלה נפשית
humiliate in Lithuanian: Pažeminimas
humiliate in Malay (macrolanguage): Penghinaan
humiliate in Norwegian: Fornedrelse
humiliate in Portuguese: Humilhação
humiliate in Finnish: Nöyryyttäminen
humiliate in Turkish: Küçük düşürme

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abase, affront, beat down, bend, break, break down, bring into discredit, bring low, bring shame upon, bring to terms, call names, cast down, cast reproach upon, conquer, crush, debase, deflate, defrock, degrade, demean, deplume, disconcert, discredit, disgrace, dishonor, disoblige, displume, disturb, dump on, embarrass, fleer at, flout, gibe at, give offense to, humble, hurl a brickbat, impute shame to, insult, jeer at, jibe at, let down, lower, master, mock, mortify, offend, outrage, overmaster, overwhelm, pillory, put down, put out, put to shame, quell, reduce, reflect discredit upon, reproach, scoff at, shame, sink, subdue, suppress, taunt, trample underfoot, tread underfoot, treat with indignity, tyrannize, unfrock, unman
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