View synonyms for nullification


[ nuhl-uh-fi-key-shuhn ]


  1. an act or instance of nullifying.
  2. the state of being nullified.
  3. the failure or refusal of a U.S. state to aid in enforcement of federal laws within its limits, especially on Constitutional grounds.


  1. The doctrine that states can set aside federal laws. Urged in the late 1820s by John C. Calhoun , nullification precipitated a crisis between Calhoun and President Andrew Jackson . The doctrine was foreshadowed by Thomas Jefferson's draft of the Kentucky Resolutions. ( See Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions .)

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Other Words From

  • nul·li·fi·ca·tion·ist nul·li·fi·ca·tor noun
  • non·nul·li·fi·ca·tion noun
  • re·nul·li·fi·ca·tion noun
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Word History and Origins

Origin of nullification1

First recorded in 1620–30; from Late Latin nūllificātiōn- (stem of nūllificātiō ) “contempt,” equivalent to nūllificāt(us) (past participle of nūllificāre “to despise, contemn”) + -iōn- -ion; nullify
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Example Sentences

Calhoun supported state nullification of federal laws and gave a speech to Congress titled “Slavery as a Positive Good.”

This behavior is so unprecedented that neutral observers have likened it to nullification and other anti-majoritarian tactics.

His later acquittal was my reintroduction to jury nullification, which I will discuss further in a moment.

I oppose nullification by states of duly passed laws of Congress.

His point being I guess that nullification wasn't limited to the South.

We will not give up our forms of political speech to the grammarians of the school of nullification.

It threatens his whole doctrine of compact, and its darling derivatives, nullification and secession, with instant confutation.

Does he not see how cogently he might be asked, whether it be the character of nullification to practise what it preaches?

And so this doctrine, running but a short career, like other dogmas of the day, terminates in nullification.

Since the days of Andrew Jackson the word "nullification" has had an ugly and dangerous sound.