fu·​til·​i·​ty | \ fyü-ˈti-lə-tē How to pronounce futility (audio) \
plural futilities

Definition of futility

1 : the quality or state of being futile : uselessness His speech focused on the futility of violence.
2 : a useless act or gesture the futilities of debate for its own sake— W. A. White

Examples of futility in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Jets’ record of futility is, in fact, a matter of record. Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Gordon Monson: Broadway Zach! BYU’s Wilson to the Jets is the personification of the risks and rewards of the NFL draft," 29 Apr. 2021 The Jaguars are picking in the top 10 for the 13th time in the last 14 years, a stunning stretch of futility. Mark Long, orlandosentinel.com, "Jaguars’ draft prospects, including Lawrence, lured Meyer," 24 Apr. 2021 Among lawmakers who support such laws, there is a feeling of futility, said state Rep. Vivian Flowers, D-Pine Bluff. Arkansas Online, "VIOLENT REALITY: Arkansas ranks 7th in gun deaths, but weapons restrictions not on table," 17 Apr. 2021 Also, if people leave after a few months, knowing the reason for those exoduses can prevent continued futility. Tom Mckeown, Forbes, "Ask The Right Questions Before Choosing A People Analytics Solution," 6 Apr. 2021 What a shame our leaders did not respond to the futility of that war earlier and spare the lives of Herron and thousands of others. WSJ, "Is the War in Afghanistan Worth Fighting?," 21 Apr. 2021 For Lucier, the incident, more than any other event in his seven-month tour, captured the bloody futility of the war. Dan Lamothe, Anchorage Daily News, "For Afghanistan veterans, old feelings of frustration and loss surface as the US prepares to end its longest war," 15 Apr. 2021 Your friends and their go-for-the-rebound advice are elegant reminders of the futility of advising against history, nature, willpower and the obvious. Washington Post, "Carolyn Hax: Are some people destined to be single?," 27 Mar. 2021 The gritty police drama depicts the futility of the efforts of Lulu, a narcotics cop who doesn’t play by the rules. Carmel Dagan, chicagotribune.com, "Acclaimed French director of ‘Around Midnight’ Bertrand Tavernier is dead aged 79," 25 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'futility.' 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 futility

circa 1623, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for futility

see futile

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Time Traveler for futility

Time Traveler

The first known use of futility was circa 1623

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Statistics for futility

Last Updated

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Futility.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/futility. Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for futility


fu·​til·​i·​ty | \ fyu̇-ˈti-lə-tē How to pronounce futility (audio) \

Kids Definition of futility

: the quality or state of being ineffective She knew the futility of trying to argue with him.

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