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

Thirty-six others were injured, some of them critically, in a blaze that sent people scrambling up the stairs toward the roof in a desperate -- and futile -- attempt to escape what proved to be Japan's deadliest fire in nearly two decades. Dallas News, "Man shouting, 'You die,' kills 33 in fire set at Japan animation studio," 18 July 2019 The non-existent relationship between PSG and Barcelona could work in Real's favour, and United could even look to enter the race with their own big-money move, but Neymar's insistence on a return to Barcelona could render both their efforts futile. SI.com, "Neymar Desperate to Return 'Home' to Barcelona as Real Madrid Consider Casemiro Swap Deal," 19 June 2019 Thirty-six others were injured, some of them critically, in a blaze that sent people scrambling up the stairs toward the roof in a desperate — and futile — attempt to escape what proved to be Japan’s deadliest fire in nearly two decades. Mari Yamaguchi, BostonGlobe.com, "Suspected arson in Japan anime studio kills 33," 18 July 2019 Thirty-six others were injured, some of them critically, in a blaze that sent people scrambling up the stairs toward the roof in a desperate — and futile — attempt to escape. Fortune, "Man Shouting ‘You Die’ Sets Fire, Kills 33 at Kyoto Animation Studio," 18 July 2019 Breaking up the tech giants is a satisfying war cry—but probably futile. The Economist, "What open-source culture can teach tech titans and their critics," 18 July 2019 Allen should have gotten the second out of the inning on Ramirez’s line drive to right field that followed, but Naylor ran in before retreating and making a futile leap as what would be a two-run double sailed past him. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Padres’ streak reaches four with loss to Marlins," 16 July 2019 Republicans are more likely to see the wars as worth US sacrifices, though a majority of Republicans still see both wars as futile. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "Two-thirds of veterans say the Iraq war wasn’t worth fighting," 10 July 2019 Thus, thousands of Steam users seem to be deleting low-cost games from their wishlists in a futile quest to maximize the potential value of their potential Grand Prix prize. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Indie developers suggest Steam Summer Sale confusion is hurting their games [Updated]," 27 June 2019

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

12 Aug 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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