A little anecdote to illustrate my question: Say I've been an aspiring poet all my life but I've never dared to tell anyone. Then the local TV station has an anonymous poetry contest. Since I've by now written a lifetime's worth of poems, I enter the one I consider the very best.

However, to my utter horror, at the night of the screening, my poem is analyzed and burned down to the ground. Which would of course sadden me very much.

But it's not just saddening. It's more than that, as I actually considered poetry one of my strong suits.

What is the word capturing this emotion? My best guess would be crestfallen, however this can only be used as a past tense "adjective verb" (I'm not sure that is the proper term, so if I'm wrong please tell me).

Is there a word that I could use in the present tense? So the sentence would look something like this:

The analysis of my poem was very <insert word here> to me.

My closest guess for this case would be humiliating. However, that has the implication of it being a public thing.

Disclamer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. ;)

  • 3
    Wounding? Deflating? Embarrassing (not public)?
    – Dan Bron
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 13:18
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    Mortifying: causing to experience shame, humiliation, or wounded pride.
    – user66974
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 13:21
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    Well, they express how you personally feel because you are 'not up to the task'. The relashionship with other people is necessary for the condition you are describing.
    – user66974
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 13:27
  • 2
    Her blog entry regarding my abilities in bed is very hurtful Commented May 19, 2015 at 16:54
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    @Mari-LouA Thanks a lot:) I didn't consider myself to be good at spelling in the first place, so I'm fine:) Thanks for the spel check. (I will delete this comment) An edit would also have been an option btw:)
    – laurisvr
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 21:58

12 Answers 12


I would use "deflate".

e.g. I knew I had done an amazing job so I was really deflated when it was criticized.

To address some of the other suggestions

  • chagrined: is really the right word but isn't as frequent in daily use
  • galled: has an element of disgust at something else, not yourself, I feel
  • frustrated: possibly conveys too much anger
  • humbled: too mellow :-)
  • insulted: is the active part of the situation rather than the consequent feeling

I would use galling.

  • fig. Irritating, offensive to the mind or spirit. [OED]

  • irritating, exasperating, or bitterly humiliating [Collins]

Your example:

You telling me that my question asking abilities are poor is very galling.

Another example from Google Books:

It is very galling to the pride of our troops to submit to such continued defeat, when they believe the man of their choice could lead them on to victory.

Camp and Prison Journal by Griffin Frost

  • 1
    Great answer - better than my accepted answer I think...! Commented May 19, 2015 at 13:49
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    @EleventhDoctor How very noble of you:). I hope you can forgive me for changing the accepted answer. Apparently my impression of the meaning of chagrining was slightly off. I've never heard of the word galling before, but it seems to convey the meaning best:).
    – laurisvr
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 14:22
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    @laurisvr Of course, no chagrin on my side over that decision! :-) Commented May 19, 2015 at 14:28
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    @EleventhDoctor, your sportmanship is commendable , but I do not agree. 'galling' means primarily 'annoying' , 'irritating' and does not imply that somebody has humiliated or disparaged you. That's what OP meant
    – user119052
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 14:32
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    @laurisvr, you asked for a word that means the whole phrase 'hurting of one's pride' and not a synonym for 'hurting', that is the difference. 'galling' means 'hurting=annoying' and works as such: 'galling of one's pride', but that is not what you asked for.
    – user119052
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 14:59

The word that came to mind when reading your question about a word to describe hurt pride was:



to make (someone) humble in spirit or manner

The above definition of the verb humble uses the adjective humble in its definition, which is defined as "not proud". So in essence, when you humble someone, you diminish their pride (if they had any).

"You telling me that my question asking abilities are poor is very humbling"

Humble seems to fit your question well, because the word has a direct connection to the concept of pride. The word humble (as well as humiliate) has its roots in the latin words

  • humilis: lowly, literally "on the ground"
  • humus: earth, soil

This post has more on humble's history of use.

Another meaning of the verb is “to lower in dignity, position, condition, or degree; to bring low, abase.”

The OED’s first citation for this sense of the word comes from William Caxton’s 1484 translation of Aesop’s Fables: “The prowde shall be allway humbled.”

Another example is Matthew 23:11-12 (New International Version)

The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

  • This used to be exactly the right word, but its constant misuse by politicians has left its meaning in a bit of a state of flux.
    – hatfinch
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 13:48
  • Incidentally I discovered what this kind of word ("humbling") is called: "contronym". dailywritingtips.com/…
    – hatfinch
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 16:29

I would say your original choice of "crestfallen" describes the feeling perfectly; it's how I felt when I let stagefright choke me to death at my first real band (vocal) audition. Also, "despondent" ("The review left me despondent,"), "heartsore" ("The dissection of my every thought and nuance left me heartsore,"), and maybe "ravaged" ("My soul was ravaged with every hateful word...") depending on your creative license....

Upon re-reading your question more carefully, for a present tense word that might fit (ish) that sentence, perhaps "soul-rending" ("Their critique was soul-rending, and I shall never be the same,"), or maybe "debilitating" ("Their harsh words were debilitating to my once-flowering artistic spirit,"), or even "demoralizing" - meaning to deprive a person of spirit or purpose, and strongly implying a loss of hope and desire to move forward...

  • 1
    "Their harsh words were debilitating to my once-flowering artistic spirit," Wat a wonderull sentence that is:)
    – laurisvr
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 11:27

make (someone) feel ashamed and foolish by injuring their dignity and self-respect, especially publicly.



Chagrin (from the OED):

Annoyance or distress at having failed or been humiliated: to my chagrin, he was nowhere to be seen

A lovely example from the writings of George Washington:

Nothing can be conceived more chagrining, than for an officer to see himself destitute of every necessary, while another, not only in the service of the same government, engaged in defending the same cause, but even in the same regiment and sometimes standing by his side in the same company is decently if not amply provided.


Answering my own question might be a bit of a lame thing to do. However I felt there were a lot of good answers:). And an even better discussion, for which thanks a million:).

Given the disagreement over the many options. It seems only reasonable to conclude the English language seems to either have a lot of words which roughly have this meaning . Or lack a word for this particular feeling.

Deflating definitely comes closely, followed by dejecting. However, both are slightly off. Maybe I'm splitting hairs here. But the (albeit very subtle) difference is the fact that this doesn't refer to a quality one considers themselves to be good at. Or am I missing something here?

I'm actually a bit surprised by a lack for this particular emotion. Since I'd expect that to a certain degree we're all familiar with this emotion. What even surprises me more is that I cannot think of any language which has this particular word. Although my language skills are admittedly quite limited.

  • Hi laurisvr. English is not lacking the word. In fact, it has a lot of words to convey the meaning. But it also depends on the context and how it is going to be used. I thought "galling" is the most suitable one because it can also directly be used with "pride". Also, people might disagree with good answers too.
    – ermanen
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 23:09
  • @ermanen I think you are right:) since it's a word relating to an emotion. It's probaly a very personal thing. Not being a native speaker this is one of the areas I sometimes feel I lack a certain feel for the subtle differences...
    – laurisvr
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 23:11
  • You also changed the question significantly. It is not a good practice after a long time and after getting a lot of answers. This is why it is important to provide an example sentence. But you tried your best and I'm sure you will ask better questions next time.
    – ermanen
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 23:23
  • @Emanen I'm aware of that. I'm sorry if you feel your answer has been invalided because of this. I actually felt the initial question turned out to be too broad allowing for different answers which were all valid. Which is not desirable for a question on any SE site. Changing a question at that point is always a dilemma and I've actually once asked a question about this on SO meta. I will try to make my question as specific as possible next time:).
    – laurisvr
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 23:29

How about:

  1. Crestfallen: sad and disappointed. "he came back empty-handed and crestfallen"
  2. Dispirited: having lost enthusiasm and hope
  3. Disheartened: cause (someone) to lose determination or confidence
  4. Subdued: (of a person or their manner) quiet and rather reflective or depressed.
  5. Somber: dark or dull in color or tone; gloomy.
  6. Chastised: Reprimanded severely.

Source for the definitions: Google


I would say "crushing".

The right word is "humbling" really, but its meaning has changed in recent years, largely on account of misuse by politicians.


"insulting" or "discouraging"?

  • 3
    without a definition, source or example of use your answer would be better put as a comment.
    – P. O.
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 16:49

I would use 'slight' as in the sentence: He felt slighted by her blatant indifference to him.



According to Merriam-Webster: to cause (someone) to feel very embarrassed and foolish.

Its meaning migrated from the literal sense:

make dead (late latin: mortificare)

to a figurative one:

deeply humiliate

already in 17th century. (here is the source)

Why I think it would fit nicely in your context: Given the source of the word, you'd use it as a hyperbole, emphasizing how devastating the experience was:

 The analysis of my poem mortified me.

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