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

His wife Judy and best friend Dan Aykroyd's attempts to get him help were futile. Leena Kim, Town & Country, "The Scandalous Secret History of the Chateau Marmont," 24 May 2019 The juvenile fish, whose sexes still have not been determined, were using all their energy in futile attempts to stay above the floor of their habitat. Karin Brulliard, The Seattle Times, "To save fish that can’t swim, veterinarian made them tiny floaties," 4 Sep. 2018 After one of several futile attempts to discuss Scripture with the two rival prisoners, Manly despairs. Erik Spanberg, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Elmore Leonard: Westerns' celebrates Leonard's mastery of the genre," 5 June 2018 The confab’s organizers had relocated the summit from the Marriott Marquis to the allegedly more spacious Hilton Midtown in a futile attempt to accommodate the surge in attendance this year. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Blockchain Week: When Crypto Took New York City by Storm," 18 May 2018 It's been a futile attempt, and Alabama has long remained in dubious company as one of only five states that does not provide any state money for public transportation. John Sharp, AL.com, "For decades Alabama has not funded transportation, bill aims to end that," 6 Feb. 2018 Questions and answers were interrupted by intermittent loud slams of nearby metal lockers, a fitting accompaniment to the Bulldogs’ futile attempts to explain what had just happened. Eric Single, SI.com, "Georgia Lets a National Title Slip Through Its Fingers in Heartbreaking Fashion," 9 Jan. 2018 Like trying to get your bearings in rough waters, the process can feel futile and frustrating. Casey Gueren, SELF, "We Asked Therapists How to Feel a Little Bit Better This Week. Here are Their Self-Care Tips," 3 Oct. 2018 For refugees, requesting such documentation was at best futile and more often dangerous. Susan F. Martin, Fortune, "Trump’s Asylum Policy Is Eerily Similar to America’s During the Holocaust," 19 June 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

3 Jun 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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