Thai Language Blog

So Embarrassing! Posted by on Oct 5, 2010 in Beginner, Culture


There is no direct translation for ’embarrassed’ in Thai. I know, it’s a word we use often in English, but I find it a challenge to convey the same feeling of the word when I speak Thai. It turns out that the English word is actually very broad in definition, whereas Thais use specific words to describe subsets of embarrassment.

The first word I’ll go over is ‘shy’. Sometimes you feel embarrassed because you are shy, so it’s the appropriate word to use. The word is อาย. To express that something has made you feel very shy, you’d say น่าอายจัง. The word จัง makes it sound somewhat cute and emotional, expressing that although you feel shy, you are mature enough to verbalize it.

He spoke in such a way it made me feel embarrassed.


If you give your girlfriend suggestions on how to dress for when you go out, but she feels it’s too sexy/skimpy, she might in her defense say ‘อายเขา‘. No, she isn’t afraid of เขา, she’s just saying she’ll be too embarrassed to be seen in public dressed like that. Probably extra so if she is Thai and you’re a big overweight balding middle-aged British farang. I kid . . . seriously, just a bad joke!

Now if it’s so embarrassing that you feel ashamed and/or humiliated, you’d use the word กระดากใจ. But it’s not a very common thing to say . . .
อึดอัดใจ means uncomfortable. For example, a sleezy guy hitting on a conservative girl would make her feel อึดอัดใจ. You make me feel uncomfortable is คุณทำให้ฉันรู้สึกอึดอัดใจ.

You are probably familiar with the Thai cultural concept of ‘saving face’. A person who ‘loses face’ in effect is also embarrassed. So if you feel embarrassed because you lost face, you can say ‘เสียหน้า‘.

If you do this, I will lose face.


A more informal way to say ‘lose face’ is หน้าแตก (แตก means broken/shattered). This is when you do something really stupid, perhaps by accident (clumsiness), resulting in embarrassment. You can say this to make fun of someone who is embarrassed, just keep in mind it’ll probably cause them to not like you . . .

If you did something to gain something, and it resulted in you embarrassing yourself, you can use ขายหน้า. It literally means ‘sold your face’. For example, you do something with the intent to impress someone else, but it wasn’t well thought out and instead made yourself look foolish. It can also be applied to shameful things you do in secret, like having an affair and people find out about it.

vocabulary (คำศัพท์):

อาย                        shy

จัง                           added at end to give playful feeling

อายเขา                  shy to be seen by others

กระดากใจ             ashamed

อึดอัดใจ                uncomfortable

เสียหน้า                 lose face

หน้าแตก                red-face embarrassed

ขายหน้า                 embarrassed yourself while trying to gain something

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  1. Reader:

    Don’t forget เขิน, which is a bit like ‘bashful’.

    • palmisano:

      @Reader I totally forgot!

      เขิน is a very strong word for shy. Its like อาย to the next power. Its so shy to the point where you can’t bring yourself to do what makes you feel that way.

  2. Allen:

    I’ve often thought about what the word for embarrassing is. Some might think it would be considered as saving face.

    Kap Kun Khrup!

    Kun Allen