stultify

verb

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

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
stultification noun

Did you know?

Foolish or absurd behavior often makes us laugh. Take the 2006 comedy film Idiocracy, for instance, which depicts the United States in a dystopian future stultified by centuries of anti-intellectualism and crass commercialism. This description of the movie showcases one sense of stultify, “to cause to appear or be stupid, foolish, or absurdly illogical.” But there is nothing especially funny about the now-archaic original usage of the word. In mid-1700s legal contexts, if you stultified yourself, you claimed to be of unsound mind and thus not responsible for your actions. Nor is there humor in the most common current meaning of stultify, which refers to rendering someone or something dull or ineffective.

Examples of stultify in a Sentence

The government has been stultified by bureaucracy.
Recent Examples on the Web The New York Review of Books commented on that thesis, contending that men—mainly white and black—avoided work because the jobs were low-paid and stultifying. Peter Georgescu, Forbes, 5 May 2023 The sudden mass switch to virtual forms of working and socializing is expected to jump-start more nuanced investigations into what makes social interaction satisfying—or stultifying. Lydia Denworth, Scientific American, 1 July 2020 That was this Oscars in a nutshell: surprising warmth and sincere, unpolished emotions that blossomed in a stultifying format. Lili Loofbourow, Washington Post, 13 Mar. 2023 Many advocates hoped the release would mark the beginning of an end to brutal, litigious patent wars that stultify innovation. Michael Fitzgerald, Discover Magazine, 26 Nov. 2014 The goal is to stimulate, not stultify, productive economic activity—the kind that raises output and justifies increased wages. Judy Shelton, WSJ, 8 Mar. 2021 The sudden mass switch to virtual forms of working and socializing is expected to jump-start more nuanced investigations into what makes social interaction satisfying--or stultifying. Lydia Denworth, Scientific American, 8 June 2020 That thread gets developed in stultifying flashbacks that detail Amelia's efforts to strike out on her own as an aeronaut after her husband falls to his death during one of their rides together. Mark Lieberman, Houston Chronicle, 6 Dec. 2019 In this case, Amazon is the Standard Oil of our age, one among a handful of bogeymen gobbling up the economy and stultifying its dynamism. Samuel Hammond, National Review, 26 Sep. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'stultify.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1737, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of stultify was in 1737

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Dictionary Entries Near stultify

Cite this Entry

“Stultify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stultify. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

stultify

verb
stul·​ti·​fy ˈstəl-tə-ˌfī How to pronounce stultify (audio)
stultified; stultifying
1
: to cause to appear or be stupid, foolish, or very unreasonable
2
: to make worthless or useless
stultify creativity

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