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 Rangers went through a stretch of futility, yes. Sam Blum, Dallas News, "Offense shows some life following no-hitter, but Rangers lose yet again to Padres," 11 Apr. 2021 Lately, however, on January afternoons like this one, his excitement was overpowered by a sense of futility and dread. ProPublica, "Protect Independent Journalism," 9 Apr. 2021 In the predawn dark, Magdy Gamal sat in the bridge of the Mosaed 2 and stared up at an iron wall of futility. Washington Post, "Inside the 144-hour scramble to free the giant ship stuck in the Suez Canal," 31 Mar. 2021 In the ultimate sign of futility after a run that included upsets of U.C.L.A. and Maryland, Texas scored 0 points in the fourth quarter — missing all 15 of its shots. New York Times, "South Carolina and Stanford Round Out Women’s Final Four," 30 Mar. 2021 Following days of futility, the rescue ended a crisis that had clogged one of the world’s most vital waterways and halted billions of dollars a day in maritime commerce. Frank Miles, Fox News, "Suez Canal ship's crew celebrates on video after Ever Given is freed," 30 Mar. 2021 After all, the Orioles organization that executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias took over in November 2018 was one that had just enjoyed a five-year competitive window, but still wore the scars of nearly two decades of futility. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Is the Orioles’ rebuild on track? From prospects to player development to scouting, here’s where things stand.," 29 Mar. 2021 Journalists who have reported on multiple mass shootings say these moments are borne of sadness, frustration, and, for some, a feeling of futility in the face of a bleak kind of repetition. New York Times, "Broadcasting ‘the Shock, the Horror, the Outrage’ Live, Again and Again," 27 Mar. 2021 Bonds’ and Clemens’ annual, nominal gains make this feel like an exercise in futility, one that will come to a close in 2022. USA TODAY, "How the USA TODAY Network voted for the Baseball Hall of Fame," 25 Jan. 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

14 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Futility.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/futility. Accessed 18 Apr. 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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