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

Example Sentences

The law has been nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court. The penalty nullified the goal.
Recent Examples on the Web Then last week, the House voted to nullify D.C.’s major police accountability legislation. Keith L. Alexander, Washington Post, 26 Apr. 2023 This is the same court, after all, that allowed Texas to effectively nullify Roe v. Wade in the fall of 2021 after that state passed an unusual bounty-style law to evade the federal courts’ review. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 11 Apr. 2023 Attorneys for groups opposed to the project and the state attorney general’s office, which is charged with upholding the referendum, suggested to jurors on Monday that developers rushed construction with a goal of winning vested rights and nullifying the referendum. David Sharp, Fortune, 10 Apr. 2023 The game tilted in the Heat’s direction to the point that even while up 106-83 with 7:15 left, the Heat successfully challenged a block-charge call to regain possession and nullify potential Philadelphia free throws. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 7 Apr. 2023 The team tried to nullify the tricks by actually completing the hand-to-hand transfers, instead of using misdirection. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 4 Apr. 2023 Winning tickets will nullify the welcome offer and produce a cash payout. cleveland, 3 Feb. 2023 Stutz thinks of Part X as an ineradicable evil that is always threatening to nullify our being. Charles Mcnultytheater Critic, Los Angeles Times, 12 Jan. 2023 With this, the practical outcome of the GOP's expulsion votes has essentially been nullified. Rafi Schwartz, The Week, 12 Apr. 2023 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 9 Jun. 2023.

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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