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 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, "The Biggest Psychological Experiment in History Is Running Now," 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, "Ballooning drama ‘The Aeronauts’ never achieves lift-off," 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, "Elizabeth Warren’s Anti-Corporate Fixation," 26 Sep. 2019 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

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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The first known use of stultify was in 1737

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Cite this Entry

“Stultify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for stultify


How to pronounce stultify (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of stultify

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

More from Merriam-Webster on stultify

Nglish: Translation of stultify for Spanish Speakers

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