oti·​ose ˈō-shē-ˌōs How to pronounce otiose (audio)
: producing no useful result : futile
: being at leisure : idle
: lacking use or effect : functionless
otiosely adverb
otioseness noun
otiosity noun

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Otiose was first used in English in the late-18th century to describe things producing no useful result. By mid-19th century, it was being used in keeping with its Latin source otiosus, meaning "at leisure." There is also the noun form otiosity, which predates otiose by approximately three centuries. That noun is rarely found in writing today, but it makes an appearance on the occasional spelling bee word list.

Choose the Right Synonym for otiose

vain, nugatory, otiose, idle, empty, hollow mean being without worth or significance.

vain implies either absolute or relative absence of value.

vain promises

nugatory suggests triviality or insignificance.

a monarch with nugatory powers

otiose suggests that something serves no purpose and is either an encumbrance or a superfluity.

a film without a single otiose scene

idle suggests being incapable of worthwhile use or effect.

idle speculations

empty and hollow suggest a deceiving lack of real substance or soundness or genuineness.

an empty attempt at reconciliation
a hollow victory

Examples of otiose in a Sentence

since you haven't read the book, I suppose that it would be otiose to inquire what you thought of it

Word History


Latin otiosus, from otium leisure

First Known Use

1795, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of otiose was in 1795


Dictionary Entries Near otiose

Cite this Entry

“Otiose.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/otiose. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

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