the goo definition of 気恥ずかしい:


I don't really understand the difference.


「気」 is a prefix in 「気恥{きは}ずかしい」. It is read 「き」 or 「け」, depending on the word it is attached to.

This prefix adds the meaning of "somewhat", "kind of", "to an extent", etc. to the verb or adjective that it attaches to. Note that these are what 「なんとなく」 means at least roughly.

Thus, 「恥ずかしい」 means "somewhat embarrassed", "a little bit ashamed", etc. whereas the plain 「恥ずかしい」 means "embarrassed", "ashamed", etc.

Common words using this prefix include:

「気{け}だるい」 = "somewhat dull", "kind of listless", etc.

「気忙{きぜわ}しい」 = "somewhat fidgety"

デジタル大辞泉 explains it this way.


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