futile

adjective
fu·​tile | \ ˈfyü-tᵊl How to pronounce futile (audio) , ˈfyü-ˌtī(-ə)l How to pronounce futile (audio) \

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 How to pronounce futilely (audio) , -​ˌtī(-​ə)l-​lē \ adverb
futileness \ ˈfyü-​tᵊl-​nəs How to pronounce futileness (audio) , -​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

The bizarre day ended with Mickelson and Casey, paired in the final group, playing until near darkness, as Mickelson made a futile bid to avoid a Monday finish. Brian Costa, WSJ, "Is This the Year Phil Mickelson Wins the U.S. Open?," 11 Feb. 2019 Officials also remain desperately concerned about the weather, with heavy rains forecast within days that could flood the cave again and render futile any efforts to pump water out. Shibani Mahtani, chicagotribune.com, "Cave rescue stalls as death of Thai diver underscores perils," 7 July 2018 Golden State creates urgency for LeBron to make a move while at the same time rendering most of his options futile. Andrew Sharp, SI.com, "The Summer of LeBron Offers More Intrigue Than the NBA Finals," 9 June 2018 And while the lone spearman's attack may have been futile at the time, the tactic has been since been vindicated by history. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "That Time a CIA Spyplane Had to Dodge a Spear During the Cold War," 14 Jan. 2019 Doing small things like calling or writing your representatives can seem futile, but in reality, these actions are very significant. Kate Griem, Teen Vogue, "Teens Resist Was Created by High Schoolers to Help Youth Engagement in Politics," 24 Aug. 2018 Our favorite curling wand for quick styling Styling your hair can be a real drag and can seem futile in the summer heat. Courtney Campbell, USA TODAY, "Here are the 5 best deals on Amazon right now," 19 June 2018 Despite Madrid's president Florentino Perez reportedly preferring an experienced manager to take the helm, advances for both Tottenham and Juventus's leading men have proved futile. SI.com, "Real Murcia President Hints Guti Will Be Named as Zidane's Successor After Turning Down Segunda Club," 9 June 2018 Roosevelt and Churchill hoped to bring the competing factions of the French resistance together in Casablanca, but their attempt proved futile. Meredith Hindley, Time, "Allied Leaders at Casablanca: The Story Behind a Famous WWII Photo Shoot," 16 Jan. 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

25 Feb 2019

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 How to pronounce futile (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on futile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with futile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for futile

Spanish Central: Translation of futile

Nglish: Translation of futile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of futile for Arabic Speakers

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