Word of The Day for Tuesday, November 9, 2010


nu•ga•tor•y (NOO-guh-tohr-ee)  adj

1. of no real value; trifling; worthless
2. of no force or effect; ineffective; futile; vain
3. not valid
(often following "render")

Synonyms: inoperative, invalid, nonbinding, nonvalid, null, void, trivial, insignificant, frivolous, useless
Related Words: nugacity, nugacious, nugae

Sentence Examples:
• "The Statesman who, knowing his instrument to be ready, and seeing War inevitable, hesitates to strike first is guilty of a crime against his country."
It is because this sequence of cause and effect is absolutely unknown to our Members of Parliament, elected by popular representation, that all our efforts to ensure a lasting peace by securing efficiency with economy in our National Defences have been rendered nugatory. -On War, Carl von Clausewitz, 1874

• All entirely bad works of art may be divided into those which, professing to be imaginative, bear no stamp of imagination, and are therefore false, and those which, professing to be representative of matter, miss of the representation and are therefore nugatory. -Modern Painters, John Ruskin

• In it form is not used as an object of emotion, but as a means of suggesting emotions. This alone suffices to make it nugatory; it is worse than nugatory because the emotion it suggests is false. -Art, Clive Bell

The Storyline
And any attempt to interject would be rendered nugatory...

1603; from L. nugatorius "worthless, futile," from nugator (gen. nugatoris) "jester, trifler," from nugatus, pp. of nugari "to trifle," from nugæ (gen. nugarum) "jokes, jests, trifles," of unknown origin

Sources: Dictionary.com, Online Etymology

Why This Word:
Closely related nugacious means nearly the same as nugatory: trivial, unimportant or insignificant. But it doesn't carry the sense of being rendered invalid, moving from potential force to ineffectiveness. Nugatory has a meaning in a legal context: a statute which is unconstitutional is a nugatory law.

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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