I didn't find the meaning of The shame of [something] in my search on the internet and that's why I can't conclude its meaning precisely. I want to use The shame of his book for some text in this specific structure as it is grammatically valid, but I think it can mean two meanings.

First possible meaning which I want to convey:

the shame that is attached to his book. (his book has been harmed)

Second possible meaning:

the shame that is caused by his book. (his book is the one that harms)

Could it mean them both or one more than the other?

  • 5
    I cannot believe you can't look that up in a bilingual dictionary and then a monolingual one. The shame of [some situation].
    – Lambie
    May 25, 2019 at 20:05
  • Of course, Lambie, I did that. The translation to my native language didn't really help as it resulted in a phrase that would not be easily understood or even absorbed as a valid phrase in Arabic, exactly as its case in English to me. As for the search, each time I had substituted a word in [somthing], and once I didn't, the idiom with its definition appeared (I did that after reading your comment), but I have to say that it wasn't of much help. Thanks to @James' very useful answer, I now understand it well. And thank you for the feedback, I appreciate it. May 26, 2019 at 1:51

1 Answer 1


The idiom "The shame of it" is used when referring to some act that brings shame on the speaker or the subject of conversation.

My daughter is marrying a Motorbike gang member. Oh the shame of it! (it refers to "marrying")

The expression is sometimes used with abstract nouns, referring to something that causes shame:

The shame of poverty prevents many from seeking help.

Or something that is shamed

Abuse is the shame of the Catholic church.

It would not be common to use "the shame of" with a concrete noun, but if you did the meaning would depend on context and whether you are speaking of something that can be shamed. In the case of a book, you can't cause a book to be shamed, because it isn't a person or an organisation. So the book must be causing shame.

The shame of the book attaches to the author, the publisher and every reader.

However, this is an unusual and highly marked use of the expression. I wouldn't use this expression on its own, but only in an essay on the nature of shame (for example)

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