futile

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

Definition of futile 

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

2 : occupied with trifles : frivolous

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Other Words from futile

futilely \ ˈfyü-​tᵊl-​(l)ē , -​ˌtī(-​ə)l-​lē \ adverb
futileness \ ˈfyü-​tᵊl-​nəs , -​ˌtī(-​ə)l-​nəs \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of futile in a Sentence

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 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 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 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 All our efforts proved futile. a futile and foolish gesture
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Recent Examples on the Web

In March, all efforts to rebuff competition and recover from crushing debts became futile. Polina Marinova, Fortune, "Term Sheet -- Monday, July 9," 9 July 2018 Together, the thick of the album cools into a smoky but futile collection of jagged rap and R&B puzzle pieces. Jason Parham, WIRED, "With Scorpion, #DrakeSZN Is Back—as Overwrought as Ever," 2 July 2018 Present-day resonance, alas, proves as distant as persuasive history in this timid, well-meaning and ultimately futile movie. Justin Chang, latimes.com, "Jessica Chastain plays the artist who painted Sitting Bull in the inert history lesson 'Woman Walks Ahead'," 28 June 2018 According to the meeting participant, Don recognized that things had turned futile—but offered to stay in touch. Julia Ioffe, GQ, "The Real Story of Donald Trump Jr.," 21 June 2018 Last year, lawyers representing the health department made a rare — and futile — attempt at trying to get Van Laningham removed from a separate marijuana case. Dara Kam, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Judge urges state to grant medical-marijuana license to South Florida nursery," 18 June 2018 Abandoning racial categories almost seems as futile as trying to ignore the law of gravity. John Blake, CNN, "The blurring of racial lines won't save America. Why 'racial fluidity' is a con," 11 June 2018 Often, streets are a futile exercise in organizing disorder. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, "This Week in the Future of Cars: Taming the Jungle," 20 Apr. 2018 Attempting to explain why a comedy works is a kind of futile exercise, but this group of actors just works together. Lindsey Bahr, idahostatesman, "Bateman, McAdams anchor lively and fun ‘Game Night’ | Idaho Statesman," 22 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'futile.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of futile

circa 1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for futile

borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, borrowed from Latin fūtilis, futtilis "brittle, fragile (of containers), serving no purpose, pointless," perhaps (if original sense was "leaky") from fū- (going back to Indo-European *ǵheu̯- "pour, shed") + -tilis "obtained by, characterized by (the action of the verb)" — more at found entry 5

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Dictionary Entries near futile

fut

futchel

futhark

futile

futilitarian

futility

futilous

Statistics for futile

Last Updated

21 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for futile

The first known use of futile was circa 1555

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More Definitions for futile

futile

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of futile

: having no result or effect : pointless or useless

futile

adjective
fu·​tile | \ˈfyü-tᵊl \

Kids Definition of futile

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

Other Words from futile

futilely adverb

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Comments on futile

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