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Embarrass vs Discomfit vs Abash vs Disconcert vs Rattle vs Faze

Embarrass, discomfitabashdisconcertrattlefaze mean to balk by confusing or confounding, but each word is capable of expressing precise and distinctive shades of meaning.

Embarrass characteristically implies some influence which impedes freedom of thought, speech, or action and may be used with reference not only to persons but also to the things they plan or desire to do.

When said of persons it commonly implies and often stresses resulting uneasiness or constraint.

Discomfit in this sense typically retains some of its basic denotation of to put to rout; in such use it implies opposition and the competence with which one opponent routs the other and crushes his self-esteem or self-complacency or throws him into confusion or, sometimes, thwarts his wishes, his hopes, or his plans.

At times discomfit is used with much weakened force and then loses its suggestion of active opponency and implies no more than to make uncomfortable or embarrass.

Abash presupposes self-confidence or self-possession and implies a usually sudden check to that mood by some influence that awakens shyness or a conviction of error or inferiority or, sometimes, of shame.

Disconcert, like embarrass, may be used in reference to actions and plans, but it is more frequently referred to persons. In either case it implies an upsetting or derangement; in the latter it suggests temporary loss of equanimity or of assurance.

Rattle more than disconcert stresses the emotional agitation accompanying the upset and implies a more complete disorganization of one’s mental processes.

Faze is found chiefly in negative expressions, where it comes close to disconcert but sometimes carries the implications of abash and rattle.