I want something for the sentence:

Being a minority is not a _____ of shame but a badge of honor.

Edit: I wanted the parallel between ____ and badge. See the accepted answer for details. Thanks to all who contributed!


6 Answers 6


Consider mantle.

Being a minority does not confer a mantle of shame, but rather a badge of honor.

From Merriam-Webster linked above:

Definition of mantle

1] a : a loose sleeveless garment worn over other clothes : cloak

b : a figurative cloak symbolizing preeminence or authority of leadership>>

2] a : something that covers, enfolds, or envelops (see envelop 1)

Since minorities sometimes endeavor to hide their status (for example by changing their name to something that sounds less Hispanic, German or Jewish) 'mantle' may fit as both a figurative cloak and as a concealment. Examples would include Martin Sheen (Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez), Jack Benny (Benny Kubelsky), etc.


"A mark of shame" fits your sentence, but "A brand of shame" might be even better here.

Brand 3b (1) : a mark put on criminals with a hot iron (2) : a mark of disgrace : stigma (Merriam-Webster)

  • 2
    I think this is a better fit than "stigma" for the particular sentence in the question.
    – mattliu
    Feb 6, 2017 at 9:17
  • 1
    I disagree with your suggestion that "brand" may be better than "mark", but +1 for "mark". :-)
    – Hellion
    Feb 6, 2017 at 21:32

The word stigma implies both the 'badge' and the 'shame':

a mark of shame or discredit

source: Merriam-Webster

But as @FumbleFingers notes, badge is an OK choice here as well.

  • 1
    +1: not an easy question but "stigma" looks like a perfect fit to me.
    – user218421
    Feb 5, 2017 at 14:20
  • 1
    Yep! Stigma is a perfect fit and unfortunately widely used in this context +1.
    – Nikki
    Feb 5, 2017 at 14:45
  • Only my opinion, but colloquially "stigma" seems more often to be about reactions or perceptions than any objective reality. If you said that "Being a minority is not a stigma but a badge of honor," you'd be saying in effect that "Most people will honor you rather than look down on you for being a minority." Which, I believe, is not quite the idea the OP is getting at. The drift of the original sentence seems to be more like, "Regardless of how others might try to shame you for being a minority, you should realize it's actually a badge of honor."
    – user36001
    Feb 6, 2017 at 14:02

As suggested already, the suffix "of shame" qualifies badge itself as a fitting word.
The word symbol can replace badge.

Being a minority is not a symbol of shame but a badge of honor.


symbol NOUN

2 A thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract.

‘In another essay, he presents the character as a symbol of the mental retardation of our society.’

If you are looking for a word implicitly meaning badge of shame, you may actually use the word shame itself.

Being a minority is not a shame but a badge of honor.

Also, disgrace may work in place of shame.


shame noun

2 : a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute : ignominy : the shame of being arrested

disgrace noun

: a source of shame : Your manners are a disgrace; He's a disgrace to the profession.

  • Also consider symbolic of shame. This sacrifices a bit of parallelism, but is perhaps more idiomatic.
    – Phil Sweet
    Feb 7, 2017 at 2:38

If you don't mind excising "of shame" in your sample sentence, the first thing that came to my mind was stain:

Your minority status is not an indelible stain on your character, but a badge of honor.

Dictionary entry:

  1. a cause of reproach; stigma; blemish: a stain on one's reputation.
  • Exactly, "not a stigma, but a badge of honor" was what first came to my mind as well.
    – rschwieb
    Feb 6, 2017 at 19:20

I would say "stamp". To me, it can have both a positive or a negative connotation, depending on which type of stamp is described. A stamp of approval is positive, a stamp of shame is negative.

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