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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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 In August, the court decided that there was no legal basis for annulment and also denied Johnson’s request for spousal support. The Arizona Republic, 5 Mar. 2022 The divorce, which became finalized in 1978, was the first official split in the immediate family of a reigning monarch since King Henry's VIII's annulment. Stephanie Petit,, 11 Feb. 2022 Grounds for Catholic annulment were much more strict before reforms introduced in the U.S. in 1968. New York Times, 17 Nov. 2021 Bharti explains that people turn to jati panchayats not knowing the difference between an annulment and a divorce and expecting divorces to be expensive, laborious processes. Esha Mitra, CNN, 20 Nov. 2021 German lawmakers in 2017 approved the annulment of thousands of convictions under the Paragraph 175 law, which remained in force in West Germany in its Nazi-era form until homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969. NBC News, 14 Sep. 2021 The Anglican Church originated when King Henry VIII split from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534, when the pope refused to grant the king an annulment. CNN, 19 Aug. 2021 An annulment allegedly followed, and Aaliyah, and eventually Hankerson, broke off contact with Kelly. Dan Rys, Billboard, 5 Aug. 2021 The man requests an electronic tablet, calls his wife, and asks for an annulment. Lincee Ray,, 9 Apr. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of annulment

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Cite this Entry

“Annulment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on annulment

Nglish: Translation of annulment for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of annulment for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about annulment


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