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

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

White’s goal was initially nullified for offside, but a VAR replay allowed the score and, by the time Cameroon had digested the ruling and the players returned to their positions, the half had been extended another four minutes. Frank Dell’apa,, "Offense-lacking Spain staring down US goal machine," 23 June 2019 After the signatures were verified by the Registrar of Voters, the Board of Supervisors had a choice: nullify their Dec. 11, 2018, vote approving the project or place the referendum on the March 3, 2020, ballot. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Newland Sierra appeals decision to hold referendum in March," 21 June 2019 Cramer’s decision nullified Harris’ plea agreement as well, because the deals were negotiated as a package. Matthias Gafni,, "Ghost Ship defendant Max Harris testifies: ‘There weren’t hard and fast rules’," 17 June 2019 The regulations effectively nullify state laws passed in response to the 2017 tax law and pinch similar programs in Georgia, Arizona and elsewhere that predate the federal tax changes and benefit private schools, rural hospitals and other charities. Richard Rubin, WSJ, "Treasury Finishes Rules Ending Blue-State Tax-Cap Workarounds," 11 June 2019 Means would have exited a tie game had the umpires not nullified a run-scoring sacrifice bunt by Keon Broxton, who ran inside the baseline and was called out. Jon Meoli,, "Orioles' rally in eighth wasted in 8-6 loss to Red Sox in 10 innings, club's fifth straight defeat," 16 June 2019 Adam Semprevivo, a junior at Georgetown, filed suit to prevent the university from kicking him out and nullifying his college credits. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, "Could Lori Loughlin sue USC? Prosecutors and USC hint at potential litigation," 7 June 2019 Even an extended video review in the 27th minute, which eventually determined Griedge Mbock Bathy was offside, nullifying a goal, couldn’t fluster the French. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Believe the hype. France shows why it's a World Cup favorite with dominant win," 7 June 2019 The son, Adam Semprevivo, is suing to prevent Georgetown from nullifying his credits. Matthew Ormseth,, "Lori Loughlin and husband could face legal conflict with USC over admissions scandal," 6 June 2019

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

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nullify

The first known use of nullify was in 1607

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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 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nullify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nullify

Spanish Central: Translation of nullify

Nglish: Translation of nullify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nullify for Arabic Speakers

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).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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