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MORTIFY

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MORTIFY

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:53 pm

• mortify •

Pronunciation: mor-dê-fai • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To embarrass horrendously, to humiliate beyond all measure. 2. To discipline yourself by abstinence and privation of the physical urges. 3. To become gangrenous or necrotic (a part of the body).

Notes: Today's Good Word comes with a regular set of derivations. Mortification is the process noun and mortifier, the personal noun. The latter refers only to an ascetic who practices mortification of the flesh and not to someone who spends his or her time embarrassing people.

In Play: Save mortify for those occasions when the embarrassment is almost too great for words: "Maud Lynn Dresser was positively mortified when she saw Portia Carr wearing the same dress as her at the spring cotillion." The association of death with embarrassment that we will see in the Word History is a long-standing one, reflected in such figurative uses as, "I just died when I fell in the pool at the party." You might as well say, "I was just mortified when I fell in the pool at the party."

Word History: So it is no surprise that today's Good Word came from Old French mortifier, the descendant of Latin mortificare "to kill", based on mor(t)s "death". The underlying root, mer-/mor- "death", made its way into a plethora of words throughout the Indo-European languages, such as English murder and Russian smert' "death", and in Latin borrowings like mortuary, mortal, and morbid. In Greek this root picked up a B, which shows up in ambrosia "food of the immortal gods" from a "not" + mbrotos "mortal". Finally, the same root became mare "death spirit, goblin" in Old English, notable today only in the compound noun nightmare.
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Postby Perry » Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:01 pm

Maud Lynn Dresser was positively mortified...

:P
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Re: MORTIFY

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Mar 22, 2013 4:37 pm

I have never been mortified in the modern sense. To me it would be an, "I'm so ashamed I wish I were dead," experience. Stroll through all the PIE derivatives of which the English word mortify is a member. The primary word for dead in a PIE language is not always traced to this PIE root, but something is in almost every PIE Language.

I have read that religious mortification of the flesh can be an erotic experience for some. My mortification of the flesh is limited to the occasional fast. My grandpa would routinely fast for twenty days, but a day or two is about all I can go. I hope that is not a faith barometer.

The symbolic act of Baptism is a mortification since we are buried with Christ in death and rise to walk in a newness of life. Christian churches that baptize by any other mode than immersion and that only for a person who has "come of age", have missed much of the symbolism. The washing symbolism is there, but the death/burial/resurrection portrayal is missing. As the old Baptist preacher said, " If you go down a sinner, you come up a wet sinner.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: MORTIFY

Postby Slava » Fri Mar 22, 2013 8:12 pm

On a silly note, what of Poe and "The Cask of Amontillado"? A close one, no?

Getting walled in would be "mortarfication", n'est-ce pas?
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Re: MORTIFY

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:13 am

A neat pun, Slava.
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