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

transitive verb

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

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.

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

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 Michigan announced the penalty after the NCAA nullified an agreement that would’ve sidelined Harbaugh for four games due to recruiting violations that occurred in 2020 and, more importantly, Harbaugh’s refusal to cooperate with the resulting investigation. Jimmy Watkins, cleveland, 6 Sep. 2023 Twice the two-point conversion attempt was nullified by penalties. Eric Sondheimer, Los Angeles Times, 4 Sep. 2023 In January 2021, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 in favor of developing a needle exchange program, nullifying a 1997 board decision. City News Service, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Aug. 2023 Ministers hoped that this approach would deter asylum seekers from making the dangerous crossing over the English Channel and nullify the business model of smuggling gangs that organize and profit from these journeys. Stephen Castle, New York Times, 7 Aug. 2023 Despite the Delaware Democrat’s plea, the Senate voted to nullify the bat’s endangered designation after opponents said disease, not economic development, was primarily responsible for the population decline. John Flesher, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 Aug. 2023 Allen also had a 28-yard kick return that was nullified by a penalty. oregonlive, 30 Aug. 2023 Simmons also had a 70-yard TD catch and 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but both were nullified by penalties. al, 26 Aug. 2023 The lawsuit says all zoning changes, land designations and community blueprints for East Elliott that the city has approved since the 1960s are nullified by the city’s agreements with the federal government made back then. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Late Latin nullificare, from Latin nullus

First Known Use

1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of nullify was in 1607

Dictionary Entries Near nullify

Cite this Entry

“Nullify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


nul·​li·​fy ˈnəl-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce nullify (audio)
nullified; nullifying
: to make null or valueless
especially : annul

Legal Definition


transitive verb
nul·​li·​fy ˈnə-lə-ˌfī How to pronounce nullify (audio)
nullified; nullifying
: to make null
nullify a contract

More from Merriam-Webster on nullify

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