verb mor·ti·fy \ ˈmȯr-tə-ˌfī \
Updated on: 2 Feb 2018

Definition of mortify

mortified; mortifying
transitive verb
1 obsolete : to destroy the strength, vitality, or functioning of
2 : to subdue or deaden (the body, bodily appetites, etc.) especially by abstinence or self-inflicted pain or discomfort
  • mortified his body for spiritual purification
3 : to subject to severe and vexing embarrassment : shame
  • was no longer mortified by comparisons between her sisters' beauty and her own
  • —Jane Austen
intransitive verb
1 : to practice mortification
2 : to become necrotic or gangrenous
  • treated his wound so that it would not mortify

Examples of mortify in a Sentence

  1. It mortified me to have to admit that I'd never actually read the book.

  2. was mortified by her children's atrocious manners

Recent Examples of mortify from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mortify.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

The Deadly History of mortify

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".

Origin and Etymology of mortify

Middle English mortifien, from Anglo-French mortifier, from Late Latin mortificare, from Latin mort-, mors

MORTIFY Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of mortify for English Language Learners

  • : to cause (someone) to feel very embarrassed and foolish

MORTIFY Defined for Kids


verb mor·ti·fy \ ˈmȯr-tə-ˌfī \

Definition of mortify for Students

mortified; mortifying
: to embarrass greatly
  • I ought to have read more, for I find I don't know anything, and it mortifies me.
  • —Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Medical Dictionary


intransitive verb mor·ti·fy \ ˈmȯrt-ə-ˌfī \

medical Definition of mortify

mortified; mortifying
: to become necrotic or gangrenous

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to fix or define the limits of

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