Definition of stultify in English:



[with object]
  • 1usually as adjective stultifyingCause to lose enthusiasm and initiative, especially as a result of a tedious or restrictive routine.

    ‘the stultifying conformity of provincial life’
    • ‘Where both forms of expression are used together, as in the present case, they may indeed tend to be mutually stultifying.’
    • ‘A better formula for stultifying research is beyond contemplation.’
    • ‘But even more, Michael Bryson has written a necessary book, one that attempts to overthrow the rather stultifying critical orthodoxy that presently governs Milton studies.’
    • ‘There is no doubt that the exterior material is beautiful, but it is also a bit stultifying in its quantity.’
    • ‘But it was simultaneously stultifying, keeping me from developing the very objectives I sought.’
    • ‘But equally, immersion can be stultifying: shut yourself off from a range of experiences (artistic and lived), and your critical reading even of the things you're shut in with suffer.’
    • ‘But since existing political institutions are frustrating and stultifying, few people are willing to participate.’
    • ‘They found it intellectually stultifying and conformist, enslaved to propriety and, well, bloody boring.’
    • ‘One lesson from the early 1970s is that trying to centralize or organize all the community energies into one big movement is stultifying for everyone concerned.’
    • ‘The full time housewife's life was stultifying.’
    • ‘I normally don't weigh in on this endlessly stultifying topic of academic liberalism, but it's getting a bit more interesting now that professors are being physically threatened.’
    • ‘Morality, one finds, isn't oppressive and stultifying; it's relaxing and liberating.’
    • ‘But Mr. Jiao is not alone in expressing frustration that, even after a long-awaited transition to a new generation of leaders some 18 months ago, China's political scene remains stultifying.’
    • ‘Whatever endangers the opportunity for inquiry and innovation threatens to make education dull and stultifying.’
    • ‘Without the inclusion of this track, the disc feels nearly stultifying, but with it, altogether pleasant.’
    • ‘For many of us, such a subdued, small town, near communitarian environment would feel repressive, stultifying.’
    • ‘This is impressive in its way, but also self-serving, exhibitionistic, and ultimately stultifying.’
    • ‘There is an appalling and stultifying conformism in Australian politico-intellectual life, such that publications which do not conform are condemned and vilified.’
    • ‘There is nothing more gray, stultifying, or dreary than a life lived inside the confines of a theory.’
    • ‘Their wish to expand the audience probably emanates from their belief that poetry should be enjoyed and practised by everyone; that poetry needs to be liberated from stultifying analysis.’
    hamper, impede, obstruct, thwart, frustrate, foil, suppress, smother, repress
    bore, make bored, dull, numb, benumb, stupefy, deaden
    View synonyms
  • 2Cause (someone) to appear foolish or absurd.

    • ‘Suppose further that other children who have a genetic disadvantage also have an environment that stultifies their musical talents.’
    • ‘Against the Portuguese side, however, this seemed the product of facing a side as proficient in stultifying opponents as Celtic have proved in the past.’
    • ‘To ask these questions is to begin to question how the whole of society operates and how its division into classes narrows and stultifies the lives of nearly everyone, both men and women.’
    • ‘Bahamians (born with minds as fine as anyone else) are stultified intellectually, emotionally and culturally by the medieval religious environment that politicians have encouraged.’
    • ‘We were to be hostage to military kindness, stultified by Stockholm syndrome.’
    • ‘Such tests tend to stultify the most creative teachers even as they, at least in theory, help the worst students.’
    • ‘There is nothing worse than being stultified by a script.’
    • ‘Too much local diversity provides too little nurturing; too much local homogeneity stultifies deviance and creativity.’
    • ‘A genuinely democratic culture has therefore been stultified and the ruling elite itself largely lacks popular legitimacy.’
    • ‘The government's withholding of information, for example about the arms deal and self-interested involvement in it, and the requirement of political correctness in public debate, however, stultify democracy.’
    • ‘Like women elsewhere, African women are stultified by circumstances largely beyond their control.’
    • ‘If not, then some variant of Orwell's nightmare will descend upon the world to enslave and stultify life for the upcoming centuries.’


Mid 18th century: from late Latin stultificare, from Latin stultus ‘foolish’.