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 ABC News reported that Eastman and a cadre of Trump allies visited Republican leader of the Wisconsin Assembly Robin Vos in March in an effort to convince him to nullify Biden’s victory in the state and reclaim the state’s electors. Grace Segers, The New Republic, 14 Apr. 2022 Also last month, Musk asked a federal judge to nullify a subpoena from securities regulators and throw out a 2018 court agreement in which Musk had to have someone pre-approve his posts on Twitter. CBS News, 4 Apr. 2022 Early in March, Musk asked Judge Alison Nathan to nullify an SEC subpoena and throw out the settlement agreement. Michelle Chapman And Tom Krisher, Anchorage Daily News, 4 Apr. 2022 Last month, Musk asked a federal judge to nullify a subpoena from a 2018 court agreement in which Musk had to have executives at the Tesla pre-approve his posts on Twitter. Maria Jimenez Moya, USA TODAY, 4 Apr. 2022 That litigation came two months after San Diego resident John Gordon sued the city and Cisterra to nullify the contract and refund the costs. Jeff Mcdonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 June 2021 Two years and two days have passed since the lawsuit seeking to nullify the land sale was filed. Los Angeles Times, 2 Mar. 2022 Or at least that's the assumption that some panelists at this year's Game Developers Conference (GDC) are eager to either soften or nullify altogether. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 23 Mar. 2022 For instance, asking parties to waive certain rights that cannot be legally waived will likely nullify that section of the agreement. Jonathan Herpy, Forbes, 17 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nullify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for nullify


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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