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Have you ever felt ashamed for someone else, even thought you are not at fault?

By Lana V LynxPublished about a month ago 1 min read
Jesus Face Palm. Source: Theology/Mix

If you ever felt embarrassed for someone else, even though you are not the one who did something wrong, you know what I'm talking about. Vicarishame happens when you witness someone say something incredibly stupid, outright lie, being rude to others, or doing something else that you know is wrong. You are ashamed for them, vicariously. For example, I experience this type of embarrassment every time I watch Jordan Klepper of The Daily Show interact with Trump supporters who do not realize how easily they get into his logical traps.

In Russian, we call this type of embarrassment "Spanish shame," apparently because Spanish was one of the first European languages that came up with an exact expression for it - "Vergüenza ajena." German and Finnish also have precise compound words for it, loosely translated as "shame for the stranger."

Today's kids call it secondhand shame or secondhand embarrassment. I think we need a better one word for it, so I came up with vicarishame. It can be contracted to vi-shame once it becomes a part of the vernacular. Here's my proposed definition:

Vicarishame (vi-shame) - feeling of vicarious or secondhand embarrassment a person experiences for a wrong action committed not by the person but someone else. Happens often in empathetic decent people. Is usually accompanied by face palm.


About the Creator

Lana V Lynx

Avid reader and occasional writer of satire and dystopia under a pen name of my favorite wild cat.

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Comments (11)

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  • Darkosabout a month ago

    It is what I experience around narcissists psychopaths and sociopaths daily but I practice and learn to clean myself from it as its a real trap in life while they are freely going on with this in life ! Thanks for that article :) !

  • Zara Blumeabout a month ago

    Great word. I usually say something is “cringe worthy” when I’m experiencing vicarishame, but that comes off as judgmental. What I mean is that I’m cringing because I feel shame for them!

  • Excellent take on the challenge an da new word for our vocabulary

  • I feel ya♥️💯✌️📝😉

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Omggg, I experience vicarishame all the time! I love this word so much!

  • Cathy holmesabout a month ago

    This is great. I know that feeling well from watching news or reading social media posts.

  • Novel Allenabout a month ago

    Jesus looks so warm. Face palm shame is hilarious. Never heard of second hand shame before. Cool, learned something new.

  • Celia in Underlandabout a month ago

    Absolutely felt it! Loved the word and the entry! Also loved learning that other languages already have a word for it!

  • Lilly Cooperabout a month ago

    I have never felt it, but I understand it. A very practical word!

  • Paul Stewartabout a month ago

    This is a universal thing imho. I regularly feel vi-shame for others lol....what a great entry! vi-shame as a contracted form as well has a modern buzzword feel. Can already imagine it being used in the media etc. Well done!

  • Hannah Mooreabout a month ago

    Oh, I feel me some vi-shame from time to time!

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