The most common thing to say when we feel ashamed is “I’m so embarrassed!” or “This is so embarrassing!”
But, how do we say embarrassed in Spanish? If you are going to travel to a Spanish-speaking country, or you simply want to expand your vocabulary, you’ve come to the right place!
Let’s get one thing out of the way — don’t say “estoy embarazado” or “estoy embarazada”. That means “I’m pregnant”!
In this article we will learn different ways to say “I’m embarrassed” in Spanish so you sound completely natural in any conversation, without accidentally telling someone that you’re bearing a child.
Embarrassed in Spanish at a Glance
Common Ways of Saying Embarrassed in Spanish
Estoy avergonzado (or its feminine variation, avergonzada) is the literal translation of “I’m embarrassed” in Spanish, and is a phrase made up of the present indicative of the verb estar (“to be”) and avergonzado or avergonzada, the participle of the verb avergonzar which means “to embarrass”.
Let’s see an example:
María: Estoy avergonzado por lo que te hice.
José: ¡No te preocupes, ya lo he olvidado!
María: I’m embarrassed of what I did to you.
José: Don’t worry, I’ve already forgotten!
Saying estoy avergonzado on its own is a little formal and simple. So maybe dress it up — try to say me siento un poco avergonzado (or avergonzada), which means “I feel a little embarrassed”.
You might also want to apologize after you’ve done something embarrassing. Here are 6 ways to say sorry in Spanish.
Me da vergüenza
Me da vergüenza is one of the most common ways to say “I’m embarrassed” in Spanish.
The word vergüenza means “shame” in Spanish. As you have surely noticed, it has two little dots on the letter U; well, this is called diaeresis or umlaut, and it’s an orthographic sign that indicates that the U must be pronounced between the letters G and E.
Let’s see an example:
María: ¿Por qué no vendrás a la fiesta mañana?
José: Porque no conozco a nadie. ¡Me da vergüenza!
María: Why won’t you come to the party tomorrow?
José: Because I don’t know anyone. I feel embarrassed!
You might also hear the word vergüenza on its own in the phrase ¡Que vergüenza!, which loosely translates to “how shameful!”, indicating that someone (perhaps you) should be ashamed by something.
¡Tierra, trágame! (or trágame, Tierra) is another way to say “I’m embarrassed” in Spanish. It is widely used in all countries where Spanish is spoken, and it literally means “Earth, swallow me!”.
As you may have guessed, it is used when you want to disappear from the world after having lived a particularly humiliating moment! For instance:
María: ¿Ese es el chico que te gusta?
José: Sí, y me tropecé justo delante de él. ¡Tierra, trágame!
María: Is that the guy you like?
José: Yes, and I have stumbled right in front of him. Earth, swallow me!
Bochorno means “hot summer air”, and what better way to call that warmth that you feel under your ears when you are ashamed? ¡Qué bochorno! is a phrase widely used, especially in Spain, to refer to a particularly embarrassing moment.
María: ¿Te olvidaste las llaves del auto adentro?
José: ¡Sí! ¡Qué bochorno!
María: Did you forget your car keys inside?
José: Yes! How embarrassing!
Se me cae la cara de vergüenza
Se me cae la cara de vergüenza is another way to say “embarrassed” in Spanish and means, literally, “my face is falling because of the shame I feel”. This expression is generally used when one must face a very uncomfortable situation for some reason, for instance:
María: Me encanta cumplir años.
José: A mí también, aunque se me cae la cara de vergüenza cuando me cantan el “feliz cumpleaños”.
María: I love my birthday.
José: Me too, although I feel very embarrassed when the happy birthday song is sung to me.
Vergüenza vs Pena
You probably heard phrases such as Me da pena or Siento pena instead of Me da vergüenza or Siento vergüenza. As you surely know, Spanish is a language spoken by millions of people in dozens of countries, which means that many dialects and words vary by region. Well, this is one of those cases!
While in countries like Mexico, El Salvador, Colombia, Panama, and Venezuela, “shame” is known as pena, in other countries, such as Argentina, Spain, Uruguay, Chile, or Peru, “shame” is known as vergüenza, and pena means “pity”.
So, if you say Me da pena in Mexico, you will be saying that you feel ashamed, but, if you say Me da pena in Argentina, you will be saying that you feel sorry about someone or something.
How not to say “I’m Embarrassed” in Spanish
Important! Avoid saying estoy embarazado! Yes, “I’m embarrassed” sounds similar to estoy embarazado. It’s one of the many false friends in Spanish, but embarazado means “being pregnant”.
The correct adjective is not embarazado but embarazoso, which means “embarrassing” in Spanish. However, don’t say Estoy embarazoso (I’m embarassing) either because that doesn’t make any sense either!
How to Say Second-hand Embarrassment?
Have you ever feel that uncomfortable feeling known in English as “secondhand embarrassment”? It’s that feeling of cringing at something you see or hear about someone doing. The Instagram account @influencersinthewild is this feeling in a nutshell.
In Spanish, this is known as vergüenza ajena. The word ajena (or ajeno) refers to something that belongs to someone else, so sentir vergüenza ajena refers to the feeling of embarrassment from observing the embarrassing actions of another person.
As you have seen, Estoy avergonzado is not the only way to say “I’m embarrassed” in Spanish: there are many others! (and Estoy embarazado is definitely not one of them!).
You can use phrases like Me da vergüenza or, if you think it’s pertinent, ¡Tierra, trágame! or ¡Qué bochorno! – it all depends on the degree of shame you feel, of course! Now that you have expanded your vocabulary, you can sound much more natural in your conversations with Spanish speakers.