an·​nul·​ment | \ ə-ˈnəl-mənt How to pronounce annulment (audio) \

Definition of annulment

1 : the act of annulling something : the state of being annulled
2 : a judicial or ecclesiastical pronouncement declaring a marriage invalid

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Did You Know?

Annulment usually applies to marriage. In some states an annulment may be carried out by a court ("judicial annulment"), but annulment is generally practiced by a church ("ecclesiastic annulment"), and principally the Roman Catholic Church, which traditionally hasn't permitted divorce. The usual acceptable reason for annulment is a "failure to consummate" the marriage by having children. Unlike a marriage that ends in divorce, an annulled marriage is considered never to have existed. Other things can be annulled as well, including a contract (if one party fails to comply with its terms) or an election (if it wasn't carried out properly).

Examples of annulment in a Sentence

an annulment of that hastily conceived marriage can't come too soon
Recent Examples on the Web Meg, desperate to end this, writes Henry and Catherine, begging them to plead her case for annulment to the pope. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Spanish Princess recap: Catherine and Henry walk in fields of gold — and other historical observations," 16 Nov. 2020 Catherine also stands by the fact that her nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor, has ties to the Pope, thus making Henry’s dispensation for an annulment a losing battle. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "The Spanish Princess finale recap: Coups, Catherine's farewell, and other historical observations," 30 Nov. 2020 As an aside, if the rogue agent also happens to be your spouse, a divorce decree or annulment automatically terminates the agent’s authority. Dallas News, "Dead sharks and rogue agents: Act fast to minimize exposure," 29 Nov. 2020 Allegations of vote buying and fraud over parliamentary elections on Oct. 4 triggered riots, leading to their annulment. Robyn Dixon, Washington Post, "Kyrgyzstan’s president resigns, bringing political impasse to an end," 15 Oct. 2020 This week Meg continues to staunchly plead her case for her annulment and her inheritance. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "The Spanish Princess recap: The tragedy of Edward Stafford, heresy, and other historical observations," 23 Nov. 2020 Raised primarily by his mother Sheila Rauch, after a public and messy annulment from his father, Kennedy attended Stanford and then Harvard Law School. Roxanne Roberts, Washington Post, "The Markey-Kennedy battle for Massachusetts is the Senate primary Democrats wish wasn’t happening," 29 Aug. 2020 In a new court filing, Marty has asked the judge to grant a speedy annulment. Ale Russian,, "Stacey Dash's Estranged Husband Claims He Was Hypnotized Into Marrying Her in Annulment Filing," 19 Aug. 2020 Robert Walser inverts the terms of the game entirely, imagining, in Jakob von Gunten, a surreal school of self-annulment where pupils learn to think of nothing and serve others blindly without asking any questions. Tim Parks, The New York Review of Books, "The Fiction of Winners & Losers," 28 July 2020

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

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First Known Use of annulment

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for annulment

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The first known use of annulment was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

9 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Annulment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for annulment


an·​nul·​ment | \ ə-ˈnəl-mənt How to pronounce annulment (audio) \

Legal Definition of annulment

1 : the act of annulling : the state of being annulled
2 : a declaration by a court that a marriage is invalid — compare divorce

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