nul·​li·​fy | \ ˈnə-lə-ˌfī How to pronounce nullify (audio) \
nullified; nullifying

Definition of nullify

transitive verb

1 : to make null (see null entry 1 sense 1) especially : to make legally null and void nullify a law
2 : to make of no value or consequence (see consequence sense 3) a promise later nullified

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Choose the Right Synonym for nullify

nullify, negate, annul, abrogate, invalidate mean to deprive of effective or continued existence. nullify implies counteracting completely the force, effectiveness, or value of something. a penalty nullified the touchdown negate implies the destruction or canceling out of each of two things by the other. the arguments negate each other annul suggests making ineffective or nonexistent often by legal or official action. the treaty annuls all previous agreements abrogate is like annul but more definitely implies a legal or official act. a law to abrogate trading privileges invalidate implies making something powerless or unacceptable by declaration of its logical or moral or legal unsoundness. the court invalidated the statute

Did You Know?

A legislature may nullify a ban, a law, or a tax by simply passing a new law. Election results can be nullified if a court finds the voting process was improper, and a court ruling can be nullified by a higher court. Even the Supreme Court itself may have its decisions nullified by new laws passed by the Congress—though not if a decision is based on the Constitution. In the years leading up to the American Civil War, Southern states claimed the right to nullify any federal law (such as antislavery laws) that they believed to be unconstitutional, leading to the Nullification Crisis of 1832. Annul is a close synonym of nullify (with the same root), as are abrogate and invalidate.

Examples of nullify in a Sentence

The law has been nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court. The penalty nullified the goal.
Recent Examples on the Web If released, Shmurda will be under parole supervision but any bad behavior could nullify his early conditional release. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, "Bobby Shmurda Could Be Released Early From Prison," 4 Jan. 2021 Democrats have blasted Cruz and the others for trying to effectively nullify tens of millions of votes without evidence of fraud or cheating. Elizabeth Thompson, Dallas News, "Cruz makes ‘historically misleading’ comparison in citing 1876 as precedent for special inquiry on Biden’s electoral win," 4 Jan. 2021 The suit also wanted to nullify guidance from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office on how officials should verify signatures on absentee ballots. Barnini Chakraborty, Washington Examiner, "Georgia judge tosses out GOP lawsuit on absentee ballots and drop boxes ahead of January runoffs," 17 Dec. 2020 On Monday, Paxton called on the Supreme Court to nullify or disregard the slate of presidential electors in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Clara Hendrickson, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan, Detroit rebuke Texas' attempting to overturn election in Supreme Court," 10 Dec. 2020 To make matters worse, the 40-yarder was initially 35 ... and Cowboys coaches failed to call a timeout to nullify a delay-of-game penalty. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, "'Self-inflicted wounds': Dallas Cowboys can't do much of anything right these days as loss at Baltimore showed," 9 Dec. 2020 However, most states have laws which nullify the votes of faithless electors, and there are not expected to be enough to alter the outcome of the election. Grace Segers, CBS News, "States face "safe harbor" deadline to certify results, sealing Biden's win," 8 Dec. 2020 Fourteen Republicans Texans in the House signed a brief last week supporting a lawsuit by the state of Texas’ Attorney General Ken Paxton to nullify the results in four states. Elizabeth Thompson, Dallas News, "Five incoming Texas GOP freshmen call on Nancy Pelosi to investigate election, despite little evidence of fraud," 17 Dec. 2020 The plaintiffs asked the court to nullify all policy passed during the shutdown. Aubrey Wieber, Anchorage Daily News, "Judge denies immediate action in lawsuit accusing Anchorage Assembly of open meetings violations," 12 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nullify.' 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 nullify

1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nullify

Late Latin nullificare, from Latin nullus

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Time Traveler for nullify

Time Traveler

The first known use of nullify was in 1607

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Statistics for nullify

Last Updated

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nullify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for nullify


How to pronounce nullify (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of nullify

: to make (something) legally null
: to cause (something) to lose its value or to have no effect
nul·​li·​fy | \ ˈnə-lə-ˌfī How to pronounce nullify (audio) \
nullified; nullifying

Legal Definition of nullify

: to make null nullify a contract

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Comments on nullify

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