The use of this word puzzles me. Yesterday someone told me they were mortified when diagnosed with cancer. (The diagnosis was years ago—the person has been cancer free for many years now.) Someone else told me they were mortified at hearing a tasteless joke. Another was mortified at a near miss by an oncoming car. These examples stuck with me because they rang false in my ear. Am I wrong? (Always a possibility.)
I might be terrified, horrified, or even petrified at a particular diagnosis, but I can only think of one or two that would mortify me, and that would be caused the manner of acquiring the disease.
While I might be embarrassed by someone else’s joke, mortified doesn’t seem right.
I’ve always associated the word with shame in some personal way. My child’s behavior could possibly mortify me (appall would be more likely), but I, unfortunately, am capable of mortifying myself.
1 obsolete : to destroy the strength, vitality, or functioning of
2: to subdue or deaden (as the body or bodily appetites) especially by abstinence or self-inflicted pain or discomfort
3: to subject to severe and vexing embarrassment : shame
Synonyms: abash, confound, confuse, discomfit, disconcert, discountenance, faze, fluster, embarrass, nonplus, rattle
How do you use the word? Do you notice its use or misuse by others? Can you give an example?