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adjective fu·tile \ˈfyü-təl, ˈfyü-ˌtī(-ə)l\

Simple Definition of futile

  • : having no result or effect : pointless or useless

Full Definition of futile

  1. 1 :  serving no useful purpose :  completely ineffective <efforts to convince him were futile>

  2. 2 :  occupied with trifles :  frivolous

fu·tile·ly play \-təl-(l)ē, -ˌtī(-ə)l-lē\ adverb
fu·tile·ness play \-təl-nəs, -ˌtī(-ə)l-nəs\ noun

Examples of futile

  1. In a digitized land of national ID cards, dropping out will be impossible, and dreaming about it will be futile. —Walter Kirn, Atlantic, May 2002

  2. After Redemption and disfranchisement destroyed black political influence, open challenges to white supremacy were futile and dangerous. —Adam Fairclough, Journal of American History, June 2000

  3. In some futile bid for gentility, the management has barred employees from using the front door, so my first day I enter through the kitchen … —Barbara Ehrenreich, Harper's, January 1999

  4. In 1845 explorer Charles Sturt led an expedition through these parts on a futile search for an inland sea. —Thomas O'Neill, National Geographic, April 1997

  5. All our efforts proved futile.

  6. a futile and foolish gesture

Origin of futile

Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin futilis brittle, pointless, probably from fu- (akin to fundere to pour) — more at found

First Known Use: circa 1555

Synonym Discussion of futile

futile, vain, fruitless mean producing no result. futile may connote completeness of failure or unwisdom of undertaking <resistance had proved so futile that surrender was the only choice left>. vain usually implies simple failure to achieve a desired result <a vain attempt to get the car started>. fruitless comes close to vain but often suggests long and arduous effort or severe disappointment <fruitless efforts to obtain a lasting peace>.

FUTILE Defined for Kids


adjective fu·tile \ˈfyü-təl\

Definition of futile

  1. :  having no result or effect <Their efforts to win were futile.>

fu·tile·ly adverb

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up futile? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 12, 2016

of, relating to, or suggestive of marble

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