futile

adjective
fu·​tile | \ ˈfyü-tᵊl How to pronounce futile (audio) , ˈfyü-ˌtī(-ə)l How to pronounce futile (audio) \

Essential Meaning of futile

: having no result or effect : pointless or useless All our efforts proved futile. a futile and foolish gesture They made a futile [=vain] attempt to control the flooding.

Full Definition of futile

1 : serving no useful purpose : completely ineffective efforts to convince him were futile
2 : occupied with trifles : frivolous

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Other Words from futile

futilely \ ˈfyü-​tᵊl-​(l)ē How to pronounce futile (audio) , -​ˌtī(-​ə)l-​lē \ adverb
futileness \ ˈfyü-​tᵊl-​nəs How to pronounce futile (audio) , -​ˌtī(-​ə)l-​nəs \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for futile

futile, vain, fruitless mean producing no result. futile may connote completeness of failure or unwisdom of undertaking. resistance had proved so futile that surrender was the only choice left vain usually implies simple failure to achieve a desired result. a vain attempt to get the car started fruitless comes close to vain but often suggests long and arduous effort or severe disappointment. fruitless efforts to obtain a lasting peace

Examples of futile in a Sentence

In a digitized land of national ID cards, dropping out will be impossible, and dreaming about it will be futile. — Walter Kirn, Atlantic, May 2002 After Redemption and disfranchisement destroyed black political influence, open challenges to white supremacy were futile and dangerous. — Adam Fairclough, Journal of American History, June 2000 In some futile bid for gentility, the management has barred employees from using the front door, so my first day I enter through the kitchen … — Barbara Ehrenreich, Harper's, January 1999 In 1845 explorer Charles Sturt led an expedition through these parts on a futile search for an inland sea. — Thomas O'Neill, National Geographic, April 1997 All our efforts proved futile. a futile and foolish gesture
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Recent Examples on the Web The quest to bring Nichols home to Woodland Hills appears to be futile, however. al, 16 Aug. 2021 The immediacy of being able to record also filtered into her recent approach to releasing music, where planning ahead can be futile. Althea Legaspi, Rolling Stone, 22 Sep. 2021 For this unique admissions test, advance prep is futile: Some dogs have a lightbulb moment; others don’t react to the sheep at all. Antonia Hitchens, Town & Country, 29 Aug. 2021 Calculating out the exact dollar amount someone pays for transportation each year can be futile. Sebastian Blanco, Car and Driver, 29 Aug. 2021 Once quarterback Jake Haener started hitting his guys in stride, the footraces to the end zone were futile: 61 yards for one TD, 86 for another. Dom Amore, courant.com, 28 Aug. 2021 Most important, the growing sense that elections are futile will suppress turnout. Regina Smyth, The Conversation, 16 Aug. 2021 The quest to bring Nichols home to Woodland Hills appears to be futile, however. al, 16 Aug. 2021 The quest to bring Nichols home to Woodland Hills appears to be futile, however. Los Angeles Times, 15 Aug. 2021

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

circa 1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for futile

borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, borrowed from Latin fūtilis, futtilis "brittle, fragile (of containers), serving no purpose, pointless," perhaps (if original sense was "leaky") from fū- (going back to Indo-European heu̯- "pour, shed") + -tilis "obtained by, characterized by (the action of the verb)" — more at found entry 5

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Time Traveler for futile

Time Traveler

The first known use of futile was circa 1555

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Dictionary Entries Near futile

futhark

futile

futilitarian

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Last Updated

9 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Futile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/futile. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for futile

futile

adjective
fu·​tile | \ ˈfyü-tᵊl How to pronounce futile (audio) \

Kids Definition of futile

: having no result or effect Their efforts to win were futile.

Other Words from futile

futilely adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on futile

Nglish: Translation of futile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of futile for Arabic Speakers

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