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 futile (audio) , -​ˌtī(-​ə)l-​lē \ adverb
futileness \ ˈfyü-​tᵊl-​nəs How to pronounce futile (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 And so for years—decades, even—this strategy seemed expensive and largely futile. Marie Solis, The New Republic, 26 May 2021 With Sano, Kepler leading the way, the hitting has been too futile to ignore. Star Tribune Sports, Star Tribune, 1 Apr. 2021 But such efforts to scrub the past are largely futile, say public affairs experts. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, 3 Feb. 2021 For now, Buck added, predicting the president’s course is mostly futile. David Lauter, Los Angeles Times, 23 Dec. 2020 Sheep dominated the Falklands’ economy, and islanders’ hopes of expanding into the fishing industry had proven largely futile. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Nov. 2020 Efficiency dropped drastically, and all my efforts to motivate them became futile. Chastity Heyward, Forbes, 24 May 2021 The restrictions have been largely futile due to several economic and social factors. Kingsley Kobo, Quartz, 16 May 2021 Many political observers say Netanyahu’s recent proposals, including his futile offer Monday to let Bennett serve first in a one-year rotation as prime minister, are mostly intended to derail the dealmaking in the opposing camp. Washington Post, 4 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for futile

Time Traveler

The first known use of futile was circa 1555

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Last Updated

11 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Futile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/futile. Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

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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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