stul·​ti·​fy | \ ˈstəl-tə-ˌfī How to pronounce stultify (audio) \
stultified; stultifying

Definition of stultify

transitive verb

1a : to have a dulling or inhibiting effect on
b : to impair, invalidate, or make ineffective : negate
2 : to cause to appear or be stupid, foolish, or absurdly illogical
3 archaic : to allege or prove to be of unsound mind and hence not responsible

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Other Words from stultify

stultification \ ˌstəl-​tə-​fə-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce stultification (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?

Stupid or absurd behavior can be almost laughable at times. That’s the kind of situation depicted in an 1871 London Daily News article, describing how a witness "stultified himself" by admitting that he was too far off to hear what he had claimed to have heard. But there is nothing especially funny about the now-archaic original usage of "stultify." The word was first used in the mid-1700s in legal contexts, where if you stultified yourself, you claimed to be of unsound mind and thus not responsible for your acts. Nor is there humor in the most common meaning of "stultify" nowadays, that of rendering someone or something useless or ineffective.

Examples of stultify in a Sentence

The government has been stultified by bureaucracy.

Recent Examples on the Web

Every decision is a conversation, what could be ceaselessly stultifying to some. Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor, "Want to live in the city? Try buying a house with five friends.," 12 June 2019 Lately a wrinkle has appeared in the fabric of my days, one that both underscores my daily existence’s stultifying sameness and alters it somehow, complicates it. Deborah E. Kennedy, Good Housekeeping, "My Mom Has Dementia, But Her Relationship With My Son Is Unforgettable," 3 May 2019 Burrows is trapped not only in a ludicrous wig but also in a cumbersome accent and stultifying Brahmin cadence. Charles Mcnulty,, "As Kennedy bios go, 'Jackie Unveiled' is more sketch than portrait," 2 Mar. 2018 There’s something stultifying about the non-Fed matchups in the Big Four. Jon Wertheim,, "Mailbag: Appreciation for Non-Federer Big Four Rivalries and Memorable Matches," 20 Dec. 2017 That leads to stultified writing and stultified shows. Lin-manuel Miranda, New York Times, "Stephen Sondheim, Theater’s Greatest Lyricist," 16 Oct. 2017 Reunions always are perilous in show business because some careers will have thrived and others will have stultified, or never really happened, or started strong and then dried up altogether. Chris Jones,, "A Red Orchid turns on itself, and its audience, in stunning 'Evening at the Talk House'," 8 Oct. 2017 De Stijl reduced artistic forms to fundamental terms, and the notion of restrictions appealed to White, who believes that, as far as his imagination is concerned, having too many choices is stultifying. Alec Wilkinson, The New Yorker, "Jack White’s Infinite Imagination," 13 Mar. 2017 These were, after all, sissy liberals engaged in stultifying cultural squabbles. Amanda Hess, New York Times, "“Five Ways Political Correctness Kills Americans.”," 19 July 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stultify.' 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 stultify

1737, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for stultify

Late Latin stultificare to make foolish, from Latin stultus foolish; akin to Latin stolidus stolid

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Time Traveler for stultify

The first known use of stultify was in 1737

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English Language Learners Definition of stultify

formal : to cause (someone or something) to become dull, slow, etc.

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stultify

Nglish: Translation of stultify for Spanish Speakers

Comments on stultify

What made you want to look up stultify? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


concealment of treason or felony

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