[ mawr-tuh-fi-key-shuhn ]
/ ˌmɔr tə fɪˈkeɪ ʃən /
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a feeling of humiliation or shame, as through some injury to one's pride or self-respect.
a cause or source of such humiliation or shame.
the practice of asceticism by penitential discipline to overcome desire for sin and to strengthen the will.
Pathology. the death of one part of the body while the rest is alive; gangrene; necrosis.
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Origin of mortification

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English mortificacion, from Late Latin mortificātiōn- (stem of mortificātiō), equivalent to morti- (see mortify) + -ficatiōn--fication

synonym study for mortification

1. See shame.

OTHER WORDS FROM mortification

pre·mor·ti·fi·ca·tion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does mortification mean?

Mortification is a feeling of humiliation or extreme embarrassment.

You know when you do something so unbearably embarrassing that you just want to shrivel up and die? That’s the feeling of mortification. Which is fitting because the word comes from a root meaning “death.”

In other words, mortification is the state of being mortified—humiliated or extremely embarrassed. Things that are humiliating or extremely embarrassing can be described as mortifying.

Both mortify and mortification also have meanings that relate to literal death. In medical terms, mortification refers to the death of one part of the body while the rest of the body is alive. This is more technically called gangrene or necrosis.

Mortification is also used (less commonly) in a religious context, in which it refers to the ascetic practice of self-discipline with the goal of strengthening one’s will and overcoming the desire to sin. In Christianity, forms of mortification include things like fasting. In some extreme cases, especially in older times, it has included things like self-flagellation—whipping oneself.

Example: I can’t even express the sense of mortification I felt when I forgot every single word of my speech and then tripped while trying to run away.

Where does mortification come from?

The first records of the word mortification come from the second half of the 1300s. It ultimately comes from the Late Latin verb mortificāre, meaning “to put to death,” from Latin mors, “death,” and the verb facere, “to do.” Mors is the root of many other death-related words, like mortal.

In a literal sense, mortification refers to tissue death—the death of a localized area of the body, such as due to a lack of blood supply to that part. This is never a good thing, so you can see why it’s used as a metaphor for extreme embarrassment—the kind when you feel like you’ll die from it. Some people experience this more easily than others. One person might feel mortification for something as simple as accidentally wearing mismatched socks. For most people, though, it comes with more extreme situations, like picking your nose on a video call when you think your video is off.

The most common ways to describe such a feeling is probably with the adjectives mortified (applied to a person) and mortifying (applied to the situation).

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What are some other forms of mortification?

What are some synonyms for mortification?

What are some words that share a root or word element with mortification




What are some words that often get used in discussing mortification?

How is mortification used in real life?

Mortification is most commonly used in a figurative way to refer to a feeling of extreme embarrassment. It’s sometimes used in stories about such situations to be self-deprecating.



Try using mortification!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of mortification?

A. pride
B. humiliation
C. embarrassment
D. shame

How to use mortification in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for mortification

/ (ˌmɔːtɪfɪˈkeɪʃən) /

a feeling of loss of prestige or self-respect; humiliation
something causing this
Christianity the practice of mortifying the senses
another word for gangrene
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012