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

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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

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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 Such steps would nullify a set of deals the Koreas reached during a flurry of diplomacy in 2018 that prohibited them from taking hostile action against each other. Kim Tong-hyung, Anchorage Daily News, "North: Kim suspended action against South for Korean impasse," 24 June 2020 These steps would nullify 2018 agreements reached during inter-Korean diplomacy that were aimed at lowering military tensions at border areas. Washington Post, "N Korea’s military to reenter inter-Korea cooperation sites," 17 June 2020 Charges mentioned in a direct complaint are nullified if a grand jury indicts a suspect. Brieanna J. Frank, azcentral, "Westgate shooting suspect Armando Hernandez Jr. indicted by grand jury on 39 charges," 28 May 2020 The project's approval is now nullified, said Russel Sipes, who represented the Nora residents opposed to the development. London Gibson, Indianapolis Star, "Judge rules in favor of Nora residents in controversial development of Haverstick Woods," 10 May 2020 Wisconsin’s election mess: In the state’s scramble to expand voting by mail, thousands of absentee ballots went undelivered or were nullified. Chris Stanford, New York Times, "A writer for The Times Magazine explains," 10 Apr. 2020 But in recent weeks, legislative attorneys have pointed to something else: provisions in the California Constitution, enacted by voters in 2016, that could nullify statutes not ratified in meetings where the public can attend in person. Los Angeles Times, "Coronavirus means unprecedented rules for reopening California’s Capitol," 4 May 2020 The investment titan privately told investors that several regulatory probes into the start-up's business could nullify a deal the companies struck last fall. Washington Post, "The Technology 202: Coronavirus crisis tests Silicon Valley's relationship with Washington," 17 Mar. 2020 And now is the time to expand absentee balloting to ensure a smoother election process in the fall, following the mess that unraveled during Wisconsin's primary, where thousands of mail-in ballots either went missing or were nullified. Erin Corbett,, "The Real Reason Trump Refuses To Bail Out The U.S. Postal Service," 17 Apr. 2020

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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Time Traveler for nullify

Time Traveler

The first known use of nullify was in 1607

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Statistics for nullify

Last Updated

2 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nullify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for nullify


How to pronounce nullify (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of nullify

: to make (something) legally null
: to cause (something) to lose its value or to have no effect
nul·​li·​fy | \ ˈnə-lə-ˌfī How to pronounce nullify (audio) \
nullified; nullifying

Legal Definition of nullify

: to make null nullify a contract

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More from Merriam-Webster on nullify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nullify

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nullify

Spanish Central: Translation of nullify

Nglish: Translation of nullify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nullify for Arabic Speakers

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