futile was our Word of the Day on 06/25/2015. Hear the podcast!
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
Recent Examples of futile from the Web
The big shift, however, is a rise in understanding that war and violence are not inevitable and that pursuing peace – the active kind – is not a futile exercise.
In the first 40 minutes, Crosby and Malkin led Pittsburgh in even-strength ice time, and each played more than five minutes across five futile power-plays, but neither registered so much as a shot on Rinne.
A lot of writing on Twin Peaks over the last couple of weeks has centered on the idea that Lynch's work is impossible to directly interpret, and that trying to find answers, puzzle-like, in the show fantastical flights is a futile effort.
A vicious cycle starts, where the pancreas pumps out more insulin in a futile effort to reduce blood sugar levels while the cells starved of fuel needed for energy production send out signals for the body to eat more.
Identical structures were built for black and white students in a futile attempt to forestall integration.
And Russia was not even on the agenda at the NATO mini-summit, likely a futile gesture to appease Trump.
Another feature of the Sanctuary Wood area is the Canadian Memorial at Hill 62, remembering the thousands of Canadians killed in futile battles to retake Hill 62 in June 1916.
To worry about displacement is futile, and to base plans on it is wasteful.
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.
Futile Has a Leaky Past
Futile floated into the English language in the mid-16th century from Middle French, where it took shape from the Latin adjective futilis, meaning "that easily pours out or "leaky." That leak of information lets you in on how "futile" developed its "ineffective" and "frivolous" meanings: things that are leaky are of no use. In 1827, English author Robert Southey found use for the word by flowing it into "utilitarian" to form "futilitarian," a word that is used today for anyone who believes that human striving is futile.
Origin and Etymology of futile
Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin futilis brittle, pointless, probably from fu- (akin to fundere to pour) — more at found
First Known Use: circa 1555
Synonym Discussion of futile
FUTILE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of futile for English Language Learners
: having no result or effect : pointless or useless
FUTILE Defined for Kids
Definition of futile for Students
: having no result or effect Their efforts to win were futile.
Seen and Heard
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