in·​ef·​fec·​tu·​al | \ˌi-nə-ˈfek-chə(-wə)l, -ˈfeksh-wəl\

Definition of ineffectual 

1 : not producing the proper or intended effect : futile

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Other Words from ineffectual

ineffectuality \ ˌi-​nə-​ˌfek-​chə-​ˈwa-​lə-​tē \ noun
ineffectually \ ˌi-​nə-​ˈfek-​chə(-​wə)-​lē , -​ˈfek-​shwə-​ \ adverb
ineffectualness noun

Examples of ineffectual in a Sentence

an ineffectual effort to find the trail again did at least lead them to another stunning view of the canyon another ineffectual plan to lose weight without dieting or exercising

Recent Examples on the Web

So far, attempts to muster support for the international regulation of autonomous weapons have been ineffectual. James Vincent, The Verge, "Elon Musk, DeepMind founders, and others sign pledge to not develop lethal AI weapon systems," 18 July 2018 Chicago has been used with wearying regularity by the same president as a symbol of rampant gun violence and hogtied, ineffectual law enforcement. Michael Phillips,, "A pop-up film festival defines immigrant America — and visits Chicago," 19 Apr. 2018 Tannerite could have been used to boost a more effective explosive (which was in turn detonated by a cell phone timer), but that begs the question: why not just use that explosive instead of the relatively ineffectual Tannerite? Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "What Is Tannerite, the Supposed NYC Bombing Material?," 19 Sep. 2016 The town’s chief authority figure, the mayor, boldly announces a series of indecisive and ineffectual remedies and later, as order deteriorates, lapses into authoritarianism. Sam Walker, WSJ, "Now on Broadway: SpongeBob ChauvinistPants," 11 July 2018 But that rush of pure adrenaline turned out to be a false dawn instead of the cathartic boost this talented but ultimately ineffectual team required. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "Germany Crashes Out of World Cup With a Loss to South Korea," 28 June 2018 The move only further enraged White, a naive, ineffectual and embittered young politician who couldn’t financially support his young family — and hated to see how his city was becoming more progressive and inclusive. John Mcmurtrie, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘Harvey Milk: His Lives and Death,’ by Lillian Faderman," 22 May 2018 The Democratic leadership in Congress that went along with this thinking with nary a peep, and that then proved so ineffectual in battling McConnell’s unconstitutional tactics, is still in place. Frank Rich, Daily Intelligencer, "Rot on the Right, Green Shoots on the Left," 28 June 2018 His National Guard plan has similarities to President Enrique Peña Nieto's program to create a new Gendarmerie, a force has been widely criticized as ineffectual and unable to settle on a mission. Joshua Partlow And David Agren,, "Mexico's presidential front-runner doesn't want to escalate the drug war," 30 June 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for ineffectual

The first known use of ineffectual was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of ineffectual

: not producing or able to produce the effect you want


in·​ef·​fec·​tu·​al | \ˌi-nə-ˈfek-chə-wəl \

Kids Definition of ineffectual

: not producing the proper or desired effect

Other Words from ineffectual

ineffectually adverb

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Comments on ineffectual

What made you want to look up ineffectual? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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