[ mawr-tuh-fahy ]
/ ˈmɔr təˌfaɪ /

verb (used with object), mor·ti·fied, mor·ti·fy·ing.

to humiliate or shame, as by injury to one's pride or self-respect.
to subjugate (the body, passions, etc.) by abstinence, ascetic discipline, or self-inflicted suffering.
Pathology. to affect with gangrene or necrosis.

verb (used without object), mor·ti·fied, mor·ti·fy·ing.

to practice mortification or disciplinary austerities.
Pathology. to undergo mortification; become gangrened or necrosed.



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Origin of mortify

1350–1400; Middle English mortifien <Middle French mortifier <Late Latin mortificāre “to put to death,” equivalent to Latin morti- (stem of mors ) “death” + -ficāre -fy

synonym study for mortify

1. See ashamed.

OTHER WORDS FROM mortify Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does mortify mean?

Mortify means to humiliate or embarrass in an extreme way.

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

Things that are humiliating or extremely embarrassing can be described as mortifying. This feeling of humiliation or extreme embarrassment can be called mortification.

Mortify can also be used in a way that relates to literal death. In medical terms, to mortify is to undergo mortification—the death of one part of the body while the rest of the body is alive. This is more technically called gangrene or necrosis.

Mortify is also used (less commonly) in a religious context, in which it means to  practice ascetic 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: Even when I do my best not to embarrass my kids, I still end up mortifying them on most occasions.

Where does mortify come from?

The first records of the word mortify 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, when a part of the body mortifies, it undergoes 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 are mortified more easily than others. One person might be mortified due to 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 mortify?

  • mortified (past tense verb, adjective)
  • morifying (continuous tense verb, adjective)
  • mortifiedly (adverb)
  • mortifyingly (adverb)
  • mortification (noun)
  • mortifier (noun)

What are some synonyms for mortify?

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


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

How is mortify used in real life?

Mortify is most commonly used figuratively in the context of feeling extreme embarrassment, especially in the form of the adjectives mortified and mortifying. It’s sometimes used in stories about such situations to be self-deprecating.



Try using mortify!

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

A. encourage
B. humiliate
C. embarrass
D. abase

Example sentences from the Web for mortify

British Dictionary definitions for mortify

/ (ˈmɔːtɪˌfaɪ) /

verb -fies, -fying or -fied

(tr) to humiliate or cause to feel shame
(tr) Christianity to subdue and bring under control by self-denial, disciplinary exercises, etc
(intr) to undergo tissue death or become gangrenous

Derived forms of mortify

mortifier, nounmortifying, adjectivemortifyingly, adverb

Word Origin for mortify

C14: via Old French from Church Latin mortificāre to put to death, from Latin mors death + facere to do
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

Medical definitions for mortify

[ môrtə-fī′ ]


To undergo mortification; to become gangrenous or to necrotize.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.