mor·​ti·​fi·​ca·​tion ˌmȯr-tə-fə-ˈkā-shən How to pronounce mortification (audio)
: a sense of humiliation and shame caused by something that wounds one's pride or self-respect
the mortification of being jilted by a little boarding-school girlWashington Irving
: the cause of such humiliation or shame
: the subjection and denial of bodily passions and appetites by abstinence or self-inflicted pain or discomfort
was customary to practice mortification during Lent

Example Sentences

the mortification of being dumped the night before the prom
Recent Examples on the Web Kuni's face flamed with heat in mortification. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 17 Feb. 2022 His son, Nick, Jr., is a hyper-imaginative boy of sixteen who loves to write and dreams of being an artist, but still, to his mortification, wets the bed. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, 17 May 2021 What form mortification should take, though, wasn’t clear, and the attempt to free the self of all its needs except the need for God can today look like masochism or mayhem. Casey Cep, The New Yorker, 23 Jan. 2023 But with each setback Rönkkö herself laudably, if slightly unbelievably, reacts mainly with frustration that another orgasm has eluded her, rather than with any deeper sense of mortification or self-consciousness. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 12 Dec. 2022 It was born, at least in part, as a response to the shame and mortification that characterized Dallas in the wake of the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. Dallas News, 21 Dec. 2022 Miss Manners does, on occasion, supply responses which, though faultlessly polite, cause an offender to explode in a burst of mortification and apology. Jacobina Martin, Washington Post, 4 Aug. 2022 He’s fascinated by ritual, runic mysticism and physical mortification, as well as visual compositions that favor firelight, shadows and bravura camera work. Washington Post, 20 Apr. 2022 This metamorphosis is triggered by that all-powerful force known as matriarchal mortification, or in layman’s terms, an embarrassing mom. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 11 Mar. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mortification.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of mortification was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near mortification

Cite this Entry

“Mortification.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2023.

Medical Definition


mor·​ti·​fi·​ca·​tion ˌmȯrt-ə-fə-ˈkā-shən How to pronounce mortification (audio)
: local death of tissue in the animal body : necrosis, gangrene

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