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

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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

Wiener’s measure, SB 822, would restore some of the rules and regulations nullified by the FCC under Pai. Michael Hiltzik,, "Internet providers' big money leaves a California net neutrality bill 'eviscerated'," 21 June 2018 The European Union is also considering legislation to nullify the effects of Trump’s sanctions on E.U. companies for engaging in transactions with Iran. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "The End of the Iran Deal and Trump’s New, Confrontational Foreign Policy," 13 May 2018 Should Baum continue to use Max as a wing back, then the job of trying to nullify the German could be with Bayern's young starlet Joshua Kimmich., "Bayern Munich Can Clinch Sixth Straight Bundesliga Title at Augsburg," 6 Apr. 2018 The obvious bag of tricks includes states’ trying to nullify laws. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Anthony Kennedy Can’t Be Allowed to Die," 23 Jan. 2018 The low turnout spurred several political groups to call for the results to be nullified, with many citing difficulties in using the electronic voting machines employed for the first time in this election as well as accusations of voter fraud. Nabih Bulos,, "Firebrand cleric Muqtada Sadr's alliance holds a surprise lead in Iraq elections," 14 May 2018 The administration called for the protections guaranteeing coverage to be nullified. Jordan Rau, Washington Post, "ACA Protections For Sick Patients Still Popular Despite GOP’s Efforts To End Them," 27 June 2018 Adidas Telstar 18 - the World Cup's official ball for this summer's tournament in Russia - is believed to have been designed to nullify the use of dip and swerve techniques during the competition this year; because apparently that's a bad thing., "From Russia With Lough: Adidas Telstar 18 Is Specifically Designed to Stop Dip & Swerve," 12 June 2018 The San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel sued the district to try to nullify its deal with Democracy Prep, arguing that Stewart’s teachers weren’t consulted, as the law also requires. Alia Malik, San Antonio Express-News, "Union loses injunction request in lawsuit against SAISD charter deal," 4 June 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.

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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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Statistics for nullify

Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for nullify

The first known use of nullify was in 1607

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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

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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).


obstinately defiant of authority

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