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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Phoenix is suing the state over a bill that the city says will nullify its plans for independent civilian oversight of its Police Department, but the court has not yet ruled on the case. Jimmy Jenkins, The Arizona Republic, 2 Oct. 2021 Some fans have said not to fix what’s not broken, but others have called for Southgate to make the switch and attempt to nullify Germany’s threat down the flanks. Liam Canning, Forbes, 29 June 2021 The doctrine is based on a concept of equity – a person cannot accept a benefit under a will while seeking to nullify that same will. Dallas News, 13 June 2021 Zelensky is pushing legislation that aims to improve Ukraine’s national security agency and has recently fired two judges, appointed by his predecessor, who’d sought to nullify his government’s fight against corruption. Eli Stokols, Los Angeles Times, 1 Sep. 2021 The bill would nullify the mask mandate for public schools issued last month by the Kentucky Board of Education — drawing criticism from educators and health officials who say universal masking is key to keeping kids safe and in school. Joe Sonka, The Courier-Journal, 9 Sep. 2021 Referendums allow voters to nullify legislative acts; initiatives enable them to propose new laws and constitutional amendments without legislative or gubernatorial approval. Anna Wiene, The New Yorker, 8 Sep. 2021 So far, Arizona and Montana have enacted similar measures to nullify gun laws this year. Andrew Demillo, Star Tribune, 28 Apr. 2021 The suit asked the courts either to cancel the election or to add Newsom’s name to the list of replacement candidates, which would nullify votes that have already been cast by mail and require a new election. Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 Aug. 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of nullify

1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nullify

Late Latin nullificare, from Latin nullus

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About nullify

Time Traveler for nullify

Time Traveler

The first known use of nullify was in 1607

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near nullify




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for nullify

Last Updated

19 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nullify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

More from Merriam-Webster on nullify

Nglish: Translation of nullify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nullify for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!