nul·​li·​ty | \ ˈnə-lə-tē How to pronounce nullity (audio) \
plural nullities

Definition of nullity

1a : the quality or state of being null especially : legal invalidity
b(1) : nothingness also : insignificance
(2) : a mere nothing : nonentity
2 : one that is null specifically : an act void of legal effect
3 : the number of elements in a basis of a null-space

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Intellectuals may speak of a book or a film as a nullity, claiming it possesses nothing original enough to justify its existence. Legal scholars also use the word; a law passed by a legislature may be called a nullity if, for example, it's so obviously unconstitutional that it's going to be shot down by the courts in no time. And if you're in an unkind mood, you're also free to call a person a nullity, if you're not instead calling him a nobody, a nonentity, or a zero.

Examples of nullity in a Sentence

that tiny country's ambassador from the U.S. is usually some nullity who happens to be a friend or supporter of the current president one of the basic themes of the theater of the absurd is the essential nullity of human existence
Recent Examples on the Web The overall Pessoan effect—of fertility and nullity overlaid, of a teeming garden spied through the transparent body of a phantom—gathers into a single sensation extremes of modern exuberance and despair. Benjamin Kunkel, Harper's Magazine, 26 Oct. 2021 Kyrsten Sinema has spent the last year participating in a Beltway social experiment that might determine whether an intellectual nullity, clad in Instagrammable vintage wear, might be passed off as a brave and serious centrist ideologue. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 9 Oct. 2021 The Vatican announces reforms to the legal structures Catholics must follow to achieve marital nullity. Cnn Editorial Research, CNN, 6 June 2021 However, the implementation of the National Security Law in Hong Kong and the electoral-system revamp have rendered it a nullity. Aaron Rhodes, National Review, 18 Mar. 2021 Later antislavery champions, including Abraham Lincoln, always considered the Northwest Ordinance to be organic to the Constitution; proslavery advocates came to regard it as an illegitimate nullity. Sean Wilentz, The New York Review of Books, 3 Aug. 2020 The digital presentation displays Arthur Rothstein’s 1936 photograph of a dust storm at a barren Oklahoma farm, picturing a father and sons against sky and earth scrubbed to gray nullities. New York Times, 22 Apr. 2020 While vodka is a surprisingly rich entity susceptible to analysis, its purported aim is a nullity. Sergio De La Pava, WSJ, 14 June 2018 Plaintiffs therefore lack standing, the Circuit Court lacks jurisdiction, and the order is a nullity. Connor Sheets,, 12 Dec. 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nullity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of nullity

1543, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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The first known use of nullity was in 1543

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Dictionary Entries Near nullity



nullius filius

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Cite this Entry

“Nullity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for nullity


nul·​li·​ty | \ ˈnə-lə-tē How to pronounce nullity (audio) \
plural nullities

Legal Definition of nullity

1 : the quality or state of being null
2 : an act, proceeding, or contract void of legal effect — compare impediment
absolute nullity
in the civil law of Louisiana : a contract or act considered void by virtue of a transgression of the public order, interest, law, or morals a bigamous marriage is an absolute nullityLouisiana Civil Code also : the quality or state of such a nullity

Note: A marriage that is an absolute nullity does not have to be annulled to terminate its legal effects (as property rights).

relative nullity
in the civil law of Louisiana : a nullity that can be cured by confirmation because the object involved is considered valid also : the quality or state of such a nullity

Note: A contract that is a relative nullity may be annulled and the parties restored to their original positions. A marriage that is a relative nullity must be annulled to terminate the legal effects (as property rights) of the marriage.

More from Merriam-Webster on nullity

Nglish: Translation of nullity for Spanish Speakers


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