Old English scamu, sceomu "painful feeling of guilt or disgrace; confusion caused by shame; state of being in disgrace; dishonor, insult, loss of esteem or reputation; shameful circumstance, what brings disgrace; modesty," from Proto-Germanic *skamo (source also of Old Saxon skama, Old Norse skömm, Swedish skam, Old Frisian scome, Dutch schaamte, Old High German scama, German Scham), which is of unknown etymology. The best guess is that this is from PIE *skem-, from *kem- "to cover" (covering oneself being a common expression of shame).
It is attested by c. 1300 as "modesty, shyness, regard for propriety or decency;" by 1580s as "thing or person to be ashamed of." To put (someone or something) to shame "inflict disgrace or dishonor upon" is mid-13c. Shame culture attested by 1947. The interjection for shame! "you should be ashamed" is by c. 1300.
Also in Middle English "nakedness, private parts, the genitals," as in the Wycliffite Bible's shameful thingis for Latin verecundiora. and shamfast membris for the male genitalia.
Until modern times English had a productive duplicate form in shand. An Old Norse word for it was kinnroði, literally "cheek-redness," hence, "blush of shame." Greek distinguished shame in the bad sense of "disgrace, dishonor" (aiskhynē) from shame in the good sense of "modesty, bashfulness" (aidos).
Middle English shamen, from Old English scamian "be ashamed, blush, feel shame;" by late Old English also transitive, "cause shame," from the root of shame (n.). Compare Old Saxon scamian, Dutch schamen, Old High German scamen, Danish skamme, Gothic skaman, German schämen sich.
The meaning "make ashamed, cover with reproach or indignity" is by 1520s. Related: Shamed; shaming.
"act of putting (someone) to shame or reproach; state of disgrace," late 14c., verbal noun from shame (v.).
Old English asceamed "feeling shame, filled with shame," past participle of ascamian "to feel shame," from a- intensive prefix + scamian "be ashamed, blush; cause shame" (see shame (v.), and compare German erschämen). The verb is obsolete, but the past participle lives on. The meaning "reluctant through fear of shame" is c. 1300. Related: Ashamedly; ashamedness.
Middle English shameles, from Old English scamleas "lacking a sense of decency, impudent, bold and immodest;" see shame (n.) + -less. Also in Middle English "free from disgrace, blameless; excusable" (c. 1200). Similar formation in Old Norse skammlauss, Dutch schaamteloos, Old High German scamalos, German schamlos. Related: Shamelessly; shamelessness.
Old English scamful "modest, humble, respectful of propriety;" see shame (n.) + -ful. Original senses are long obsolete. The meanings "disgraceful, full of shame; causing shame" are by mid-13c. Related: Shamefully; shamefulness.
The Old English adjective scamlic "shameful, disgraceful" also could mean "modest," but Middle English shamely survived until 16c. Middle English had shamely (adv.) "shamefully" (Old English sceamlice), but this for some reason has fallen from use. The "Romans of Partenay" (c. 1500) has shamevous "shameful, disgraceful;" shameworthy is attested from late 14c., and a mid-15c. mystery play has shamously "shamefully."
"modest, bashful," 1550s, a folk-etymology alteration of shamefast, "modest, humble, virtuous," also "ashamed of one's behavior," from Old English scamfæst "bashful," literally "restrained by shame," or else "firm in modesty," from shame (n.) + -fæst, adjectival suffix (see fast (adj.)). Related: Shamefacedly; shamefacedness.
shamefaced, -fast. It is true that the second is the original form, that -faced is due to a mistake, & that the notion attached to the word is necessarily affected in some slight degree by the change. But those who, in the flush of this discovery, would revert to -fast in ordinary use are rightly rewarded with the name of pedants .... [Fowler]
"shame, disgrace" (obsolete or dialectal), Middle English, from Old English scand "ignominy, shame, confusion, disgrace; scandal, disgraceful thing; wretch, impostor, infamous man; bad woman," from the source of Old English scamu "shame" (see shame (n.)) + -þa, with change of -m- to -n- before a dental (compare Old Frisian skande, Dutch schande, Old High German scanda, German Schande "disgrace"). Also in early Modern English as a verb, shend (from Old English scendan) "put to shame; blame, reproach; bring to ruin."
It was active in forming compounds, such as shendful "ignominious, humiliating" (Old English scandful) "shameful," shendship "disgrace; destruction, ruin, torments of Hell;" shendness "destruction, harm ruin;" Old English scandhus "house of ill-fame," scandlic "shameful," scandlufiende "loving shamefully," scandword "obscene language."
1670s, "a trick put upon one, a hoax, a fraud, something that deludes or disappoints expectation," a word of uncertain origin. Along with the verb ("to cheat, trick") and the adjective ("false, pretended"), the word burst into use about 1677 according to OED. Perhaps they are from sham, a northern dialectal variant of shame (n.); a derivation suggested by 1734 and which OED finds "not impossible."
The main modern sense of "something meant to be mistaken for something else, something meant to give a false outward appearance" is from 1728 (the verb in the related sense is from 1690s); applied to persons by 1850.
The meaning "false front" in pillow-sham (1721) is from the notion of "counterfeit." Related: Shammed; shamming; shammer. Shamateur "amateur sportsman who acts like a professional" is from 1896. A song from 1716 calls the Pretender the Shamster.