What Is The Difference Between Shame and Dishonor?

In society, the term “honor” is thrown around to describe a person’s social standing and how their actions impact that stature.

If the wrong action takes place, it can harm a person’s honor whether it’s through lying, cheating, or doing something else that’s perceived as being dishonest. However, the same people start using terms such as “shame” and “dishonor” in the same light leading to confusion.

This article is going to dissect both words and illustrate the context they’re used in or should be used in while speaking about the subject of honor.


This is a personal feeling of a perceived action (i.e. lying, cheating).

A person will feel shame if they are to commit something that’s wrong or looked down upon. The context can vary as to what would make a person feel shame, but in the end, it is a personal feeling. It might not have anything to do with someone else.

In general, a person who puts themselves in this position feels they have wronged another party, been wronged by someone, or have reduced their stature in society. This can come as a result of what others might say or what they feel is right.

A person who feels shame can often relate to the painful feeling inside and might become aware of what others think of him/her. It illustrates a state of consciousness to what should or should not bring shame to a person.


In comparison, dishonor has nothing to do with personal feelings and is an external term.

It means when a person has committed an action (i.e. lying, cheating) that goes against societal norms or what is perceived to be honorable. Dishonor does not have to relate to the person who has committed the act but also those in his/her family or near him/her.

An individual who dishonors another person will have brought shame to them.

The person is going to feel shame for the actions of another leading to a dishonored state. In some cases, “honor” has to be defined for a person to show signs of dishonor. It can be something as straightforward as lying or something as extensive as adultery depending on the situation at hand.

This can also impact how a person reacts to this state of dishonor or how they are treated by others around them. It is important to differentiate between the terms due to this reason as it can have an impact on how actions are perceived.

The terms are often interchanged when they should not be. A person can quickly feel shame without being dishonored.

These definitions play a major role when it comes to the subject of honor killings where a man/woman is killed due to the shame felt by their family members. Due to the shame felt by these family members, they try to make amends by killing the accused party.

This can have a profound impact on how society views honor and how a person feels “shame” for his/her actions.