Mortify once actually meant "put to death", but no longer. Its "deaden" sense is most familiar to us in the phrase "mortifying the flesh", which refers to a custom once followed by devout Christians, who would starve themselves, deprive themselves of every comfort, and even whip themselves in order to subdue their bodily desires and punish themselves for their sins. But the most common use of mortify today is the "humiliate" sense; its connection with death is still apparent when we speak of "dying of embarrassment".
It mortified me to have to admit that I'd never actually read the book.
was mortified by her children's atrocious manners
Recent Examples on the WebHis audience looked baffled at best and mortified at worst.—Rory Smith, New York Times, 27 Jan. 2024 At Max’s Kansas City, mortified by Suicide’s nightmare proto-electro, watching singer Alan Vega in a bright old-lady wig grabbing fans by the hair, choking them out with his mic cord, spitting and screaming in their faces.—Jonathan Rowe, SPIN, 23 Jan. 2024 Hines isn’t anywhere close to that point with her real-life husband, however, despite his own penchant for mortifying public antics.—Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Jan. 2024 Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has endured his share of mortifying moments in his journey to the American stage.—Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 8 Jan. 2024 Mulligan and Cooper give dedicated impersonations, but the final effect is, well, mortifying.—Armond White, National Review, 22 Dec. 2023 The actress added that she was both mortified and impressed by Ivy’s joke.—Stephanie Kaloi, Peoplemag, 7 Dec. 2023 Levy: Something that’s slightly mortifying for me — Aria and I were in Budapest, staying at the same hotel.—Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2023 As the editor of a scientific journal, I was mortified to read the claims laid out in Lewis-Kraus’s article.—Condé Nast, The New Yorker, 30 Oct. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mortify.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Middle English mortifien, from Anglo-French mortifier, from Late Latin mortificare, from Latin mort-, mors