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From Latin stultus (stupid, foolish), +‎ -ify. Compare Late Latin stultificō.


  • IPA(key): /ˈstʌltɪfaɪ/, /ˈstʌltəfaɪ/
  • (file)


stultify (third-person singular simple present stultifies, present participle stultifying, simple past and past participle stultified)

  1. (transitive) To cause to appear foolish.
    Synonym: humiliate
    • 1871–1872, George Eliot [pseudonym; Mary Ann Evans], chapter XX, in Middlemarch [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to IV), Edinburgh, London: William Blackwood and Sons, →OCLC, book (please specify |book=I to VIII):
      If they had been at home, settled at Lowick in ordinary life among their neighbors, the clash would have been less embarrassing: but on a wedding journey, the express object of which is to isolate two people on the ground that they are all the world to each other, the sense of disagreement is, to say the least, confounding and stultifying.
  2. (transitive) To deprive of strength or efficacy; to stupefy, make useless or worthless.
    Synonyms: inhibit, impair, dull
    • 1886 May, Thomas Hardy, chapter XXII, in The Mayor of Casterbridge: The Life and Death of a Man of Character. [], volumes (please specify |volume=I or II), London: Smith, Elder & Co., [], →OCLC:
      Here was a disaster—her ingenious scheme completely stultified.
    • 1891, Thomas Hardy, chapter XXXVII, in Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), London: James R[ipley] Osgood, McIlvaine and Co., [], →OCLC:
      At breakfast, and while they were packing the few remaining articles, he showed his weariness from the night’s effort so unmistakeably that Tess was on the point of revealing all that had happened; but the reflection that it would anger him, grieve him, stultify him, to know that he had instinctively manifested a fondness for her of which his common-sense did not approve, that his inclination had compromised his dignity when reason slept, again deterred her.
    • a. 1897 [1842], chapter IX, in Katherine Prescott Wormeley, transl., The Two Brothers[1], translation of La Rabouilleuse by Honoré de Balzac:
      The presence of a woman stultified the poor fellow, who was driven by passion on the one hand as violently as the lack of ideas, resulting from his education, held him back on the other. Paralyzed between these opposing forces, he had not a word to say, and feared to be spoken to, so much did he dread the obligation of replying.
    • 1905, Upton Sinclair, chapter XXXI, in The Jungle, New York, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Company, published 26 February 1906, →OCLC:
      Here is an historical figure whom all men reverence and love, whom some regard as divine; and who was one of us—who lived our life, and taught our doctrine. And now shall we leave him in the hands of his enemies—shall we allow them to stifle and stultify his example?
    • 1950 December, H. C. Casserley, “Locomotive Cavalcade, 1920-1950—6”, in Railway Magazine, page 847:
      From the economic point of view, the concentration of future construction into a dozen or so standard classes should be for the good, provided it is not adhered to too rigidly, and allowed to stultify progress in design and further efforts to improve the efficiency of the steam locomotive, which still remains the simplest and most reliable of machines ever invented by man.
  3. (transitive, archaic, originally law) To prove to be of unsound mind or demonstrate someone's incompetence.
    (The addition of quotations indicative of this usage is being sought:)

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