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

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

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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 In preliminary meetings, the defense asked the Synod judicial commission to vacate all charges and nullify the investigation, according to the letter, a request the commission denied. Holly V. Hays, USA TODAY, 12 Jan. 2022 But House Majority Leader Ben Toma, R-Peoria, and Sen. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, have floated a measure that would repeal and replace the 2021 tax cut and nullify the ballot question. Stacey Barchenger, The Arizona Republic, 9 Jan. 2022 In preliminary meetings, the defense asked the Synod judicial commission to vacate all charges and nullify the investigation, according to the letter, a request the commission denied. Holly V. Hays, The Indianapolis Star, 7 Jan. 2022 This allowance for communicating though becomes a point of potential weakness in the takeover plot since it can possibly be used to disrupt or ultimately nullify the malevolent scheme. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 19 Oct. 2021 Thanks to the way the law is designed, the Supreme Court can effectively allow S.B. 8’s enactment and nullify Roe in at least one state in the Union without writing a single word about Roe or Casey or undue burdens or medical autonomy. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 1 Sep. 2021 When courts were asked to intervene, many punted the issue back to legislatures, or in some cases, chief executives modified their rules in an attempt to nullify the pending litigation. Nick Murray, Star Tribune, 17 Feb. 2021 The Alaskan Independence Party, for example, has circulated a draft constitution that would attempt to nullify some parts of the U.S. Constitution in Alaska. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Dec. 2021 The Senate narrowly approved a resolution to nullify the Biden administration’s requirement that businesses with 100 or more workers have their employees be vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to weekly testing. Elvia Limón, Los Angeles Times, 9 Dec. 2021

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

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The first known use of nullify was in 1607

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nullify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for nullify



English Language Learners Definition of nullify

: to make (something) legally null
: to cause (something) to lose its value or to have no effect


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

Legal Definition of nullify

: to make null nullify a contract

More from Merriam-Webster on nullify

Nglish: Translation of nullify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nullify for Arabic Speakers


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