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 His weariness of war and assessment of its futility in Korea led him to push for an armistice. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, "I Like Ike(’s Museum)," 15 Jan. 2020 Ah, futility: The 49ers finished with 468 yards of offense, the most ever by a Super Bowl loser. Susan Slusser, SFChronicle.com, "The Bay Area’s most forgettable sports moments in an unforgettable decade," 22 Dec. 2019 Underlying all of the solemnity and outrage was the sense that, whatever happened in the House, impeachment will ultimately be an exercise in futility. Grace Segers, CBS News, "House Democrats strike "sad," "solemn" tone in marathon debate over impeaching Trump," 18 Dec. 2019 Early deer season in a treestand can be an effort in futility, as there can be so many limbs full of leaves around it’s nearly impossible to get off a clean shot at a deer. The Editors, Field & Stream, "Three Great Gifts for Treestand Hunters," 20 Nov. 2019 Only two teams have technically been eliminated: Expansion side FC Cincinnati, whose next goal conceded will set a new league record for defensive futility, and the Vancouver Whitecaps. Avi Creditor, SI.com, "MLS Playoffs Primer: Who's In, Who's Out, Scenarios in Play," 24 Sep. 2019 Since then, Browns fans have suffered through years of futility, including the winless 2016 season and a lone victory in 2017. Fortune, "Could Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham, Jr. Be Worth More to Cleveland Than LeBron?," 7 Sep. 2019 The inequities—and futility—of most college athletics have been well documented. Kevin Baker, Harper's magazine, "What We Do in the Shadows," 24 June 2019 Washington announced the move two days after Snyder fired president Bruce Allen following a decade of futility. Stephen Whyno, Houston Chronicle, "Washington hires Ron Rivera as coach," 1 Jan. 2020

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

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Futility.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/futility. Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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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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