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 Hardman’s 52-yard catch in the second quarter seemed destined to set up Kansas City’s first touchdown, but a fumble on the next play nullified that opportunity. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 23 Feb. 2024 And with the snake red herrings nullified, BOA led me to think of a feather boa, which was my way into the greens. Kris Holt, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 The new board immediately nullified the vote stripping itself of power, wresting back control of the district from Disney. Becket Adams, National Review, 4 Feb. 2024 The Seattle Children’s Hospital requested a Texas judge nullify, or at least rein in, Paxton’s demands, arguing that his office lacks the jurisdiction over the Washington state hospital. Ben Brasch, Washington Post, 22 Dec. 2023 His first reception in the first quarter was nullified — because of pass interference against Kupp. Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times, 20 Nov. 2023 Here's a look at the history of the treaty and what could happen if it is nullified. TIME, 12 Feb. 2024 Two other punt return touchdowns were nullified by penalties. Jerry McDonald, The Mercury News, 5 Feb. 2024 Getty Images | Michael McCoy More than 65 Republican lawmakers this week introduced legislation to nullify rules that prohibit discrimination in access to broadband services. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, 2 Feb. 2024 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 29 Feb. 2024.

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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