Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[fyoot-l, fyoo-tahyl] /ˈfyut l, ˈfyu taɪl/
incapable of producing any result; ineffective; useless; not successful:
Attempting to force-feed the sick horse was futile.
trifling; frivolous; unimportant.
Origin of futile
1545-55; < Latin fūtilis, futtilis easily broken, vain, worthless, equivalent to fūt- (akin to fundere to pour, melt) + -ilis -ile
Related forms
futilely, adverb
futileness, noun
nonfutile, adjective
unfutile, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for futile
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Have I not always striven to convince you that your hopes were futile?

    Which? Ernest Daudet
  • Legislation against it is as absurd and futile as a movement to stop the tides.

    The Root of Evil Thomas Dixon
  • He waged a futile war with Sweden which cost blood and treasure, but brought no advantage to either of the combatants.

    The Story of Norway Hjalmar H. Boyesen
  • "No, Maurice, your project is futile," responded his father.

    Fairy Fingers Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie
  • It was futile, of course, but this time it seemed to him that the sill and the plank to which it was attached gave a little.

    The Woman-Haters Joseph C. Lincoln
British Dictionary definitions for futile


having no effective result; unsuccessful
pointless; unimportant; trifling
inane or foolish: don't be so futile!
Derived Forms
futilely, adverb
futileness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin futtilis pouring out easily, worthless, from fundere to pour out
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for futile

1550s, from Middle French futile, from Latin futilis "vain, worthless, futile," literally "pouring out easily" (of a vessel), hence "easily emptied, leaky, unreliable," from base of fundere "pour, melt," from PIE root *gheu- "to pour" (see found (v.2)). Related: Futilely.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for futile

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for futile

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for futile