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 Unlike most other prominent WWI films, though, Mendes stops short of a full indictment of the war's futility. David Faris, The Week, 28 June 2022 More broadly, the backlash only illuminates the utter pointlessness and futility of the Supreme Court confirmation process itself. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 28 June 2022 In an environment this vitriolic, feelings of despair and futility threaten to become daily companions. Jennifer Harvey, CNN, 20 June 2022 But the show is less about futility than the value of keeping the struggle alive, and the collective work of redress and repair in an unendingly anxious moment in American life. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 9 June 2022 And that feeling, more often than not, is one of bitter failure and futility. Justin Changfilm Critic, Los Angeles Times, 2 June 2022 That may be more problematic, though, when part of what they're being engaged over proves to be exercises in legislative futility. Rick Klein, ABC News, 12 May 2022 New management has raised concerns about the cost and possible futility of such endeavors. San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 May 2022 Within those two words are lifetimes of loyalty and futility and hopefulness and emptiness and finally, the sort of emotional rescue that only sufferers can know. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 31 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of futility

circa 1623, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for futility

borrowed from French and Latin; French futilité, going back to Middle French, borrowed from Latin fūtilitāt-, fūtilitās (also futtilitāt-, futtilitās) "unprofitableness, uselessness," from fūtilis, futtilis "brittle, fragile (of containers), serving no purpose, pointless" + -itāt- -itās -ity — more at futile

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The first known use of futility was circa 1623

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Last Updated

31 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Futility.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/futility. Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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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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