One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Having elements which contradict or negate one another.‘some of the speculation had been self-cancelling, with newspapers predicting that the government would take quite opposite courses’
- ‘This extraordinary general election has resulted in the extraordinary self-cancelling outcome of not one lame duck leader but two.’
- ‘The political state of the nation is locked into a self-cancelling dynamic.’
- ‘There's a sense of self-cancelling motion, of action and reaction distilled into one form.’
- ‘Entertaining stuff, but I had the uncomfortable feeling that the stunts were not so much self-defeating as self-cancelling, leaving the corporate structure undamaged in each case.’
- ‘You might say that, as with the declaration about marriage quoted earlier, Powell's way of declaring is so circumspect or humorously self-cancelling that something original results.’
- ‘Switching from one tendency to the other will result in a self-cancelling effect in a given period of effort.’
- ‘To start with, the claim that it is true that there is no truth is itself self-cancelling.’
2(of a mechanical device) designed to stop working automatically when no longer required.
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