I am looking for a word to express the feeling that you have when you don't want to weigh on someone but still have to ask for a favor out of need.

For example, consider the following sentence.

He felt ashamed asking for a favor.

"Ashamed" has a negative connotation. Looking for a word that implies virtue (modesty, humility, down-to-earthness)

  • 1
    Please describe positive shame a little bit more. I think you're looking for a different idea. – Valkor Sep 10 '20 at 8:51
  • You could say "He respectfully asked for a favour". (Which I'm not posting as an answer because it's not a synonym for or otherwise really comparable to shame.) – nnnnnn Sep 10 '20 at 9:00
  • @Valkor Thank you! Revised the question to be more clear. – abdul Sep 10 '20 at 17:07
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    You mention humility in your question. I assume you considered 'humble' did you dismiss it for any particular reason? – JeffUK Sep 15 '20 at 9:29
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    He felt ... almost ashamed, asking for a favour. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 15 '20 at 10:58

The closest words that I found are "considerate" and "thoughtful"

For example, consider the following sentences.

He was very considerate about asking for a favor because he was already indebted to her.

He was very thoughtful about asking for a favor because he was already indebted to her.

These words are not exactly what I was looking for because of the following reasons.

  • Both of these words are an action and not a feeling.
  • "Considerate" is mostly used for the person who is on a higher ground.

However, these words somewhat serve the purpose.

Interesting Fact:

There is a word for this in Urdu language called "Haya"

  • "Haya", noun translates to "Modesty"
  • "Haya Aana", verb translates to the positive shame that I was talking about. The person is already indebted and feels shame in inconveniencing the other person by asking for another favor.
  • 1
    I wouldn't consider either of those words as being the positive equivalent of shame. – KillingTime Oct 11 '20 at 19:16

Shame is negative, so a word with a positive connotation would be a very different word.

You mention modesty in your question, but that isn't in the sentence you wrote. Discretion, or being discreet, is sometimes a positive reason to hide something.


A positive word for shame about asking for a favor

diffident adjective

diffident adjective

dif·​fi·​dent | \ ˈdi-fə-dənt , -ˌdent \

Definition of diffident

1 : hesitant in acting or speaking through lack of self-confidence



  • The person asking is not hesitant because of self-confidence but because he doesn't want to cause trouble, worry or even discomfort. – abdul Sep 10 '20 at 17:13

How about abashed? Not as assertive as ashamed and invokes the more complex feeling you describe. " made to feel uncomfortable, disconcerted, or embarrassed by something that has happened or been done or said" https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abashed

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    You should include a full definition of your chosen word with a dictionary link. – KillingTime Nov 10 '20 at 20:33
  • OK~sorry-new to this – buddhiarts Nov 10 '20 at 22:30

Thesaurus work gives many possibilities but none seems to fit the subtle change of meaning that you seek. The nearest I can get from other related concepts is “presumptuous”, which admits your negative embarrassment in asking, but keeps the balance of positive respect between you and the other person.

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    I have never heard of presumptuous being at all positive. Presumptuous is the opposite, really. The person asking has no embarrassment, nor any respect for a social construct being violated. – Valkor Sep 10 '20 at 8:41
  • Yes, it is a difficult question. Do you have any other suggested answer? – Anton Sep 10 '20 at 8:44

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