nul·li·fy | \ ˈnə-lə-ˌfī \
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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Congress could also theoretically rewrite the nation’s immigration laws to nullify the ban, but would have to overcome Trump’s veto. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Supreme Court Upholds Presidential Bigotry," 26 June 2018 Residents voted Tuesday to retain the voting system, nullifying a legislative delay and allowing it to be used in November's federal elections in Maine. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Raccoon Congress," 13 June 2018 Besides the temporary injunction, the union sued to nullify the contract between SAISD and Democracy Prep. Alia Malik, San Antonio Express-News, "Judge to rule on injunction that would halt charter takeover of Stewart Elementary," 1 June 2018 Reaching a deal to nullify that threat will require the concerted effort of all parties. Charlie Campbell / Beijing, Time, "Did President Trump Deliberately Sabotage the North Korea Summit to Save Face?," 25 May 2018 European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker confirmed the bloc would on Friday start updating the blocking statute, a legal act meant to nullify the effect in Europe of specific U.S. sanctions. Laurence Norman, WSJ, "Merkel, Macron Try to Preserve Iran Deal Without Provoking U.S.," 17 May 2018 Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, sought to stop the FCC’s repeal of the Obama-era rules by using their authority under the Congressional Review Act to nullify the commission’s vote last December. Michael Collins, USA TODAY, "Senate votes to halt repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules," 16 May 2018 Daniels, in turn, sued Trump in state Superior Court in Los Angeles to get the deal nullified. Mark Z. Barabak,, "Stormy weather, or how a meeting at a golf resort blew up into a Trump scandal," 21 Mar. 2018 Large numbers of marriages would be legally nullified in a moment, imperiling everyday rights of inheritance, custody, pensions, tax status and much more. Walter Olson, WSJ, "Gay Marriage Is Here to Stay, Even With a Conservative Court," 8 July 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of nullify

1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nullify

Late Latin nullificare, from Latin nullus

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nullify

Statistics for nullify

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nullify

The first known use of nullify was in 1607

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 \
nullified; nullifying

Legal Definition of nullify 

: to make null nullify a contract

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on nullify

What made you want to look up nullify? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


characteristic trappings or dress

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!