fu·til·i·ty | \ fyü-ˈti-lə-tē \
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

And Suns owner Robert Sarver has been the one constant through an unprecedented stretch of futility for an organization that had become accustomed to success. Greg Moore, azcentral, "Moore: NBA draft night shows Phoenix Suns moving in new direction," 21 June 2018 But if nearly four decades of futility elevated the Triple Crown as the most difficult feat in sports, having two winners in the last four years should do nothing to diminish it. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Justify's Triple Crown shouldn't be diminished because of American Pharoah," 9 June 2018 With a preposterous level of futility in the early innings, the Padres left themselves vulnerable to a comeback. Kevin Acee, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Padres get around to scoring, then Richard falters in loss to A's," 4 July 2018 Such futility simply cannot be with a unit that boasts Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin off the edges. Andy Benoit, SI.com, "Jon Gruden Is Back, With a Big Rebuilding Job: 10 Thoughts on the Raiders," 18 June 2018 The Bengals haven't won a playoff game since the 1990 season, the sixth-longest streak of futility in NFL history. Joe Kay, chicagotribune.com, "FC Cincinnati to join MLS in 2019 as league's latest expansion team," 29 May 2018 Although he's thrown clunkers since, Duffy has never endured such an extended period of futility in his eight-year career. Maria Torres, kansascity, "In loss to Indians, Danny Duffy becomes latest Royals veteran pitcher to allow 9 runs | The Kansas City Star," 13 May 2018 Yet the movie has a mythic thrust that’s partly due to its almost playful manipulation of time, its silent flash-forwards lending the story a feeling of futility and predetermination. Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times, "Review: 1920s Australia Is No ‘Sweet Country’ for Aboriginal Australians," 5 Apr. 2018 Journey’s End plops us into Year 3 of the madness, when the futility and insanity of the situation had left soldiers shell-shocked and cynical. Gary Thompson, Philly.com, "'Journey's End': In the trenches with WWI soldiers," 28 Mar. 2018

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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Phrases Related to futility

exercise in futility

Statistics for futility

Last Updated

11 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for futility

The first known use of futility was circa 1623

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More Definitions for futility


fu·til·i·ty | \ fyu̇-ˈti-lə-tē \

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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Comments on futility

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the setting in which something occurs

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