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Borrowed from Latin nūgātōrius


  • (file)
  • IPA(key): /ˈnjuːɡətɔɹi/


nugatory (comparative more nugatory, superlative most nugatory)

  1. Trivial, trifling or of little importance.
    • 1872, Benjamin Disraeli, Suez Canal Speech
      I might refer to the general conviction and the common sense of society that such an investment cannot be treated as absolutely idle and nugatory.
  2. Ineffective, invalid or futile.
    • 1792, George Washington, Fourth State of the Union Address
      I can not dismiss the subject of Indian affairs without again recommending to your consideration the expediency of more adequate provision for giving energy to the laws throughout our interior frontier and for restraining the commission of outrages upon the Indians, without which all pacific plans must prove nugatory.
    • 2017 September 7, Ferdinand Mount, “Umbrageousness”, in London Review of Books[1]:
      Bartolomé de las Casas’s critique of the cruelty of the Conquistadors led to his official appointment as ‘Protector of the Indians’ and to the passage of the New Laws which gave the Indians some nugatory protection.
  3. (law) Having no force, inoperative, ineffectual.
    • 1819, Chief Justice John Marshall, McCulloch v. Maryland (17 U.S. 316)
      The word "necessary" is considered as controlling the whole sentence, and as limiting the right to pass laws for the execution of the granted powers to such as are indispensable, and without which the power would be nugatory.
  4. (computing) Removable from a computer program with safety, but harmless if retained.