null

1 of 3

adjective

1
: having no legal or binding force : invalid
a null contract
2
: amounting to nothing : nil
the null uselessness of the wireless transmitter that lacks a receiving stationFred Majdalany
3
: having no value : insignificant
… news as null as nothing …Emily Dickinson
4
a
: having no elements (see element sense b(3))
null set
b
: having zero as a limit
null sequence
c
of a matrix : having all elements equal to zero
5
a
: indicating usually by a zero reading on a scale when a given quantity (such as current or voltage) is zero or when two quantities are equal
used of an instrument
b
: being or relating to a method of measurement in which an unknown quantity (as of electric current) is compared with a known quantity of the same kind and found equal by a null detector
6
: of, being, or relating to zero
The meter gave a null reading.
7

null

2 of 3

noun

1
2
a
: a condition of a radio receiver when minimum or zero signal is received
b
: a minimum or zero value of an electric current or of a radio signal

null

3 of 3

verb

nulled; nulling; nulls

transitive verb

: to make null

Did you know?

Let’s be honest: null is kind of a nothing word. That’s not a judgment—it was literally borrowed into English from the Anglo-French word nul, meaning "not any." That word, in turn, traces to the Latin word nullus, from ne-, meaning "not," and ullus, meaning "any." Null often pops up in legal and scientific contexts; it was originally used in Scottish law and still carries the meaning "having no legal or binding force," especially in the phrase "null and void." In mathematics, it is sometimes used to mean "containing nothing"; for example, the set of all whole numbers that are divisible by zero is the "null set" (that is, there are no numbers that fit that description). Null is occasionally seen in non-technical contexts with the meaning "lacking meaning or value," as in "if no one reads it, the book's content is null."

Examples of null in a Sentence

Adjective the contract was null because one party forgot to sign it that information is as null as no information at all Verb asked the state court to null the election results because of widespread voting irregularities
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
While a lot of it was null bytes, there was some suspicious looking information in the response. Ashley Belanger, Ars Technica, 30 Oct. 2023 There’s all these things that you— there’s no such thing as a null pointer or a null value. IEEE Spectrum, 30 Mar. 2023 The move galvanized a disillusioned population (null ballots had outstripped all the candidates in the first round), propelling Guatemalans onto the streets in protest. Whitney Eulich, The Christian Science Monitor, 19 July 2023 But with the number of null votes, many cast in protest, beating out all the 22 candidates, the progressive Seed Movement’s Bernardo Arévalo came in second, ensuring his participation in an Aug. 20 runoff. Sonia Pérez D. and Christopher Sherman, The Christian Science Monitor, 14 July 2023 During the first round, a quarter of voters cast blank or null ballots in protest. Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, 13 July 2023 This formula also contains soothing ingredients such as oatmeal and aloe vera to minimize and null any irritation-inducing side effects. Nykia Spradley, Allure, 19 July 2023 The family of all null sets is denoted by 𝒩, and the smallest cardinality of a non-null set is denoted by non(𝒩). Martin Goldstern, Scientific American, 16 Aug. 2021 With only a few days before voters go the polls, Pemech Estrada was leaning toward casting a null vote, essentially a protest vote. Christopher Sherman, ajc, 25 June 2023
Noun
But the methods being imperfect, and interpretation being somewhat an art, a consensus of Out-of-Africa + total replacement has been assumed to be a null. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 21 Apr. 2010 Over 89% of the searches came up null in this way; for eight of the seventeen traits, the researchers found no associated genes using any strategy. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 4 Dec. 2014 The Germans called 1945 Stunde null, zero hour. The New Yorker, 4 July 2021 And there was a null-set. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, 11 Sep. 2022 Even creating your account on the website rather than through the application (which most users will likely do) will render Spideroak's encryption promise null. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, 6 Feb. 2023 Of these five articles, only one (27) reports a null-finding. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 18 Mar. 2016 In her affidavit, Butler says the party should declare the runoff null and hold a new one between her and Harrison. Mike Cason | McAson@al.com, al, 8 July 2022 Do not be alarmed when informed that the weather (chilly) and probability of establishing a security perimeter in the Park (null) have persuaded diplomats to reconsider stroll. Zach Helfand, The New Yorker, 9 May 2022
Verb
Don’t worry that cooking with it will null the point: The heat is not so high as to damage the principal flavors. Emily Horton, Charlotte Observer, 31 Jan. 2024 Ricart understood the changing dynamics in college football and was careful to include a contingency that would null the truck’s lease should Ewers transfer. Jessica Rodriguez, Journal Sentinel, 8 Oct. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'null.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective, Noun, and Verb

Anglo-French nul, literally, not any, from Latin nullus, from ne- not + ullus any; akin to Latin unus one — more at no, one

First Known Use

Adjective

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1556, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of null was in 1542

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Dictionary Entries Near null

Cite this Entry

“Null.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/null. Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

null

adjective
ˈnəl
1
: having no legal or binding force : invalid
2
: having no value : insignificant
3
: having no elements
the null set

Legal Definition

null

adjective
: having no legal or binding force : void
a null contract
Etymology

Adjective

Anglo-French nul, literally, not any, from Latin nullus, from ne- not + ullus any

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