stultify

verb
stul·​ti·​fy | \ˈstəl-tə-ˌfī \
stultified; stultifying

Definition of stultify 

transitive verb

1 archaic : to allege or prove to be of unsound mind and hence not responsible

2 : to cause to appear or be stupid, foolish, or absurdly illogical

3a : to impair, invalidate, or make ineffective : negate

b : to have a dulling or inhibiting effect on

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from stultify

stultification \ ˌstəl-​tə-​fə-​ˈkā-​shən \ 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

Burrows is trapped not only in a ludicrous wig but also in a cumbersome accent and stultifying Brahmin cadence. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "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, SI.com, "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, chicagotribune.com, "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.

See More

First Known Use of stultify

1737, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for stultify

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about stultify

Listen to Our Podcast about stultify

Dictionary Entries near stultify

stuller

stulm

Stülpnagel

stultify

stultiloquence

stultiloquy

stum

Statistics for stultify

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stultify

The first known use of stultify was in 1737

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for stultify

stultify

verb

English Language Learners Definition of stultify

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

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

a private place of worship

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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