English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Could anyone please tell me what's the difference in meaning between the words 'shameless' and 'unashamed'?

share|improve this question
'Shameless' and 'Unashamed' - they both are synonyms at least for MW. – Maulik V Aug 26 '14 at 5:08

unashamed is the negative of ashamed meaning not feeling shame, embarassment, etc.

shameless means not having any sense of shame, modesty, etc.

So you could be ashamed or (the opposite) unashamed, but if you are shameless you do not care about embarrassment, shame, modesty etc.

share|improve this answer
"unashamed" has the connotation of being related to a particular event or action that might cause a person to be ashamed. "shameless" can refer to a person's attitude about everything, or be limited to a person's attitude toward a particular kind of activity. For example, "shameless self-promotion" is a valid phrase; it means that the person does not have any sense of shame about self-promoting activities, but does not say anything about whether they have a sense of shame about other activities. – Jasper Aug 26 '14 at 0:19
thank you both for answering. Jasper, your explanation was pretty helpful and made it clear to me :) – Mila Aug 26 '14 at 1:04
I've just asked my English teacher about this, and she added that a person can be 'shameless' only because of their own attitude and behavior, whereas a person who feels '(un)ashamed' doesn't necessarily have to be the agent but could also feel like that because of other people's actions. – Mila Aug 27 '14 at 15:12
Actually, being 'shameless' is connected with others in a wider sense, since it's the society that decides what sort of behavior contributes to identifying shamelessness, but that's not the point :) – Mila Aug 27 '14 at 15:29

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.