Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day


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Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.



April 23rd, 2015

Episode 175 of 689 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 23, 2015 is: null \NULL\ adjective 1 : having no legal or binding force : invalid 2 : amounting to nothing : nil 3 : having no value : insignificant 4 : having no elements Examples: The court will declare the city ordinance null if it is found to be in conflict with state law. "Michigan voters in November rejected two ballot questions that would essentially have allowed the state Natural Resources Commission to decide the hunting of wolves. But a legislative maneuver made those votes null." John Barnes, Kalamazoo (Michigan) Gazette, December 23, 2014 Did you know? English borrowed null from the Anglo-French nul, meaning "not any." That word, in turn, traces to the Latin word nullus, from ne-, meaning "not," and ullus, meaning "any." We sometimes use null with the meaning "lacking meaning or value," as in "By the time I heard it, the news was null." In math, null is sometimes used to mean "containing nothing"; for example, the set of all whole numbers that are divisible by zero is the null set (that is, there are no numbers that fit that description). The phrase null and void is a term in its own right, defined as "having no validity."

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