20 Ways to Say You’re Embarrassed in Spanish
Tired of saying “I’m sorry” because you don’t know how to say you are embarrassed in Spanish? Avoid feeling awkward and improve your conversation skills at the same time with this handy blog post!
Welcome to the ultimate guide on all the ways to say you feel embarrassed in Spanish.
After you read this article, you’ll be able to:
- Say the correct words in the right context.
- Enrich your vocabulary.
- Learn slang and colloquial words to make you feel like a native speaker.
- Make you feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations.
Let’s get started!
5 Most Common Phrases to Say ‘Embarrassed’ in Spanish
You know the feeling when your heart starts racing, your face turns red and you want to turn and run in the opposite direction? You’re embarrassed! But how do you let those around you know how you are feeling? Put your mind at ease with these 5 most common phrases to say “embarrassed” in Spanish.
1. Qué vergüenza – what a shame, how embarrassing
Vergüenza translates to shyness, guilt, remorse, and the feeling of being ridiculed. Do not forget to use an accent on qué always, since it is part of an expression.
Qué vergüenza, no sabía que estabas ahí.
How embarrassing, I didn’t know you were here.
2. Tener vergüenza – to have shame, to be shy
To have a sense of shame is the meaning of tener vergüenza. While qué vergüenza is only an expression, tener vergüenza can be used in more complex sentences.
Tener vergüenza es una virtud que pocos poseen.
Having a sense of shame is a virtue that only a few possess.
3. Estoy avergonzado/a – I’m ashamed
Estoy avergonzado is the proper response after being scolded or when taking responsibility for one’s actions. It implies acknowledgement and remorse by itself but it can go with a promise of not doing it again or acceptance.
No debí faltar a la escuela, estoy avergonzado.
I shouldn’t skip school, I’m ashamed.
Estoy avergonzado, prometo no volver a faltar a la escuela.
I’m ashamed, I promise I will never skip school again.
4. Qué pena – what a pity, how embarrassing
Qué pena translates to various degrees of pain, depending on the context and tone you use. It can mean both “how embarrassing” and “I’m sorry for your loss.”
For example, if you forget to turn in your homework to your teacher, you’d say:
Qué pena, se me olvidó.
How embarrassing, I forgot.
5. Estoy apenado/a – I’m ashamed
This phrase denotes shame or shyness and can be a form of apology. It is used in the same context as qué pena. The difference is that qué pena is more impersonal and estoy apenado feels more sincere.
Estoy apenado, se me olvidó.
I am ashamed, I forgot.
3 Ways to Say ‘Sorry’ in Spanish
Sometimes saying you are embarrassed isn’t enough. If you feel like apologizing is appropriate, with these 3 ways you will be able to do so. These phrases are the most general ways to apologize, and although they apply to almost every occasion, there are differences between them to be noted.
6. Lo siento – I’m sorry
Lo siento implies a shared emotion of regret.
Perdí tu cargador, lo siento.
I lost your charger, I’m sorry.
No lo entregué a tiempo, lo siento.
I did not deliver on time, I’m sorry.
7. Disculpa, discúlpame, discúlpeme – apologies, excuse me
Discúlpame is one of the most common and simple ways to express that you’re embarrassed in Spanish. What most native Spanish speakers don’t know is that discúlpame has to be used when you didn’t mean what you did or said. It was an accident or you didn’t realize it had an effect on someone else. “Dis-culpa” means take the guilt away or guilty free. There is no offense here.
Discúlpame, no pude contestar el teléfono.
Excuse me, I couldn’t answer the phone.
(This phrase is saying you had no opportunity to answer the phone because something else happened, it wasn’t your fault.)
The formal way to say it is discúlpeme.
8. Perdón, perdóname, perdóneme – pardon, forgive me
Perdón or perdóname, on the other hand, is an expression that denotes acknowledgement. You know what you did, you did it on purpose and there is an offense. What you are asking from the other person is that he or she takes that premeditated offense with no resentment.
Perdóname por no contestar el teléfono.
Forgive me for not answering the phone.
(In this case, you were aware of the fact that the phone was ringing but you didn’t answer. You are at fault.)
The formal way to say it is perdóneme.
4 Spanish Phrases to Say You’re Embarrassed
The expressions above can be very useful, but also a bit dull. If you want to blend in with native Spanish speakers, get to know these 4 phrases to say you are embarrassed in Spanish. They are used in very different contexts and scenarios so please read all the way through.
9. No me di cuenta – I didn’t realize
This phrase can stand alone if the context is understood, for example:
Persona 1: ¡Rompiste el juguete!
Persona 2: No me di cuenta.
Person 1: You broke the toy
Person 2: I didn’t notice.
Ultimately, your remorseful tone makes it clear that you mean to apologize, but you can always add lo siento or qué pena before or after to drive the point home. If the context is missing, you have to specify the thing you didn’t realize.
Depending on the structure of the sentence, you will use de or de que. Learn to discern the difference in: Is it ‘Que’ or ‘De Que’? Find Out Which to Use and When.
No me di cuenta de que ya habías llegado.
I didn’t notice you had arrived.
No me di cuenta de la hora.
I didn’t realize the time.
No me di cuenta de que trajiste comida.
I didn’t realize you brought food.
In an attempt to translate it literally, the verb phrase darse cuenta is close to “to take into account,” or in our case—to not take into account. The difference is that in English, the phrase assumes that you did it on purpose—you knew something and you didn’t take it into account—whereas, in Spanish, it was unintentional (another way to say this is sin querer).
10. No quise incomodarte – I didn’t mean to upset you
This is a simple and polite way to express that you’re embarrassed in Spanish. It puts up a barrier between you and the person to whom you’re talking when they’re clearly upset by what you’re doing or have done. As a response, you’re not only saying that you’re sorry, but also that you’re ending the interaction.
Discúlpame, no quise incomodarte.
Excuse me, I didn’t mean to upset you.
Discúlpame por preguntar, no quise incomodarte.
I am sorry for asking, I didn’t mean to upset you.
11. No quise molestarte – I didn’t mean to bother you
Just as no quise incomodarte, this phrase expresses embarrassment and apology at the same time. It sets up a wall between you and the other person. No conversation follows.
Perdón por venir de nuevo, no quise molestarte.
I am sorry for coming again, I didn’t mean to bother you.
12. Sin nombre, no tiene nombre – It has no name
This is the most dramatic one. And since Latin American culture is partially known for its drama, it’s very common to hear this.
Lo que hiciste no tiene nombre.
What you did has no name / no honor.
In this example, the doings of the subject were so shameful and terrible that they have no name whatsoever.
Spanish Adjectives that Relate to Embarrassment
13. Modesto/a – Modest
Latin American people tend to be shy about accomplishments, giving way to feeling embarrassed when it’s not necessary. No seas modesto is an expression often heard during the celebration of an achievement. It literally means “don’t be modest,” and encourages the receiver of the phrase to not feel embarrassed about what they’ve achieved.
Acepta el cumplido, no seas modesto.
Accept the compliment, don’t be modest.
Cuando le dieron el premio, ella fue muy modesta y dijo que era un trabajo en equipo.
When she received the prize, she was very modest and said it was a team effort.
14. Humillante – humiliated
This is an extreme kind of embarrassment you feel when someone else intentionally disrespects you. Accepting you were humiliated publicly is not common in Mexican culture, so it’s mostly used when speaking about someone else’s experience.
No me dieron mi diploma en la ceremonia. Fue humillante.
They didn’t give me my diploma at the ceremony, it was humiliating.
Lo dejaron en el altar, fue muy humillante.
He was left at the altar, it was very humiliating.
15. Pena ajena – embarrassed for someone
Pena ajena goes strictly to other people’s embarrassment. It means “someone else’s shame.” It is a feeling you get when you see someone making a fool of himself or herself and you feel a shame for them that transfers to you.
Siento pena ajena.
I’m embarrassed for that person.
3 Formal Ways of Saying You’re Embarrassed in Spanish
The next 3 phrases will give formality to your embarrassing experience. While the first one is commonly used by companies providing goods and services, the other ones can add an intellectual value to the conversation. Those two expressions are considered formal because the elders use them.
16. Disculpe el inconveniente – sorry for the inconvenience
This is a formal expression for saying you’re embarrassed in Spanish. For example, you might receive this note when a service provider mixes up your order. What’s more, it’s a typical response to a boss in an office setting when you’ve missed a deadline or failed to meet a work-related goal.
This phrase finds itself at the end of letters, notes, or emails, and doesn’t necessarily require additional information, but you can always say what the inconvenience was.
Aquí está su orden, disculpe el inconveniente.
Here’s your order, sorry for the inconvenience.
Aquí está su orden, disculpe el retraso.
Here’s your order, sorry for the delay.
17. Qué bochorno – what an embarrassment, how awkward
This phrase is highly formal and more common in Spain or among Latin American elder people. Since the word also means “muggy heat,” we relate it to something so embarrassing that you feel a suffocating heat.
Qué bochornosa situación.
What an embarrassing situation.
Caerme delante de todos fue muy bochornoso.
Falling down in front of everyone was very awkward.
18. Sin el menor empacho – without the slightest shame
This phrase is also common in Spain as well as among Mexican elders. However, it’s slowly been thrown out by Mexican culture for a couple of reasons:
- There are plenty other ways to say that exact thing.
- Empacho also means indigestion and is more often used to mean that.
3 Informal Spanish Phrases and Mexicanismos
Now, here’s the real challenge. No one will doubt your Spanish language mastery if you say one of the next 3 phrases. Its usage will denote your hispanic culture knowledge and will get you closer to native speakers. These are the most common informal phrases of embarrassment in Spanish.
19. Me agarraste en curva – you caught me unprepared
This one is strictly mexican. It literally means “You caught me in a curve” and what it really means is you caught me unprepared or unaware. Why the curve? Because sometimes you are driving on a highway and from the curve you can’t see what’s next, you are unprepared for the next move. This is something you say among people you know.
Persona 1: ¿Traes mi dinero?
Persona 2: No, me agarraste en curva.
Person 1: Did you bring my money?
Person 2: No, I came unprepared.
(After telling a secret to your friend:)
Persona 1: ¿Vas a decir algo?
Persona 2: Lo siento, me agarraste en curva.
Person 1: Are you gonna say anything?
Person 2: I’m sorry you caught me unprepared.
20. Qué oso – what a fool
Qué oso is probably the most famous colloquial phrase in Mexico. It attracts both tourists and beginner Spanish speakers since the literal translation is “what a bear.” As for its origin, some say it comes from a medieval tradition that lasted until the 20th century, where bears were part of street shows. The bear moved around foolishly, dancing and mimicking humans in a clumsy way. It is a fun way to say you are embarrassed in Spanish.
The phrase is useful when telling a story where you’re embarrassed or someone else is.
It can be used in an office or in a formal place as long as you know everyone in the room well enough.
Qué oso hice ayer cuando me caí.
What a fool I made of myself yesterday when I fell down.
Qué oso hizo Luis cuando lo callaron.
What a fool Luis made of himself when they shut him up.
21. ¡Trágame tierra! – just kill me
Native Spanish speakers love to use this phrase. Its literal translation goes something like this: “Earth, swallow me!” which is a way of saying I wish the earth would open up and swallow me so I can disappear. That’s how embarrassed you feel. When do you use this phrase? When you trip over in front of the person you like or when you walk around with toilet paper attached to your shoe.
Me acabo de caer en frente de todos, trágame tierra.
I just fell down in front of everyone, just kill me.
Bonus Phrase! The Big No-No: embarazado
As you can see, the word “embarrassed” in Spanish comes in many different phrases, synonyms, and colloquial slang words. But what you didn’t see on this list is a tricky false cognate: embarazado.
Never use this word to mean “embarrassed” in Spanish!
While they may sound alike, embarazado means “pregnant.” Learn more about these tricky words in our list of Top 40 False Cognates That Will Trip You Up and Confuse You.
Ready for your bonus phrase?
While embarazado is a no-go, a similar-looking word embarazoso does mean “embarrassing” and can be used in the following context:
21. Qué situación tan embarazosa – what an embarrassing situation
This phrase is likely to be used in a more formal setting in Mexico, meanwhile it’s an everyday colloquial expression in Spain.
Practice How to Say You’re Embarrassed in Spanish!
Now that you know exactly what to say in every embarrassing situation in Spanish, you’re ready to put your skills into practice. You can do it with our certified native Spanish-speaking teachers at Homeschool Spanish Academy. Don’t feel embarrassed! Try it out for free—sign up for a free trial class today. Come join 24,000 monthly active students who are building a better future by becoming fluent in Spanish!
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