- incapable of producing any result; ineffective; useless; not successful: Attempting to force-feed the sick horse was futile.
- trifling; frivolous; unimportant.
Origin of futile
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for futilely
But conservatism now feels a lot like liberalism did in 1984 and 1985, back when I was futilely shoveling away that snow.The Case for Transformation
January 23, 2013
I have spent the many years since trying, futilely, to catch up.Inside the NYT Book Review: ‘How I Write’ Interviews Sam Tanenhaus
August 8, 2012
Israel is quick to laud those who fought the Nazis, no matter how futilely, over those who went powerless to their deaths.Israel's Private Shame
Matt Beynon Rees
April 21, 2009
He had waited too often and futilely in the past for porcupines to unroll, to waste any more time.White Fang
Futilely he beat and thrust with his arms against the pillarlike limb.Salvage in Space
John Stewart Williamson
He caught a glimpse of Carmena futilely clutching for Slade's throat.Bloom of Cactus
Robert Ames Bennet
Her shoulders heaved as—futilely—she strove to wrench her arms free.From Place to Place
Irvin S. Cobb
Maida's voice, futilely attempting to broadcast over the uproar.Tarrano the Conqueror
Raymond King Cummings
- having no effective result; unsuccessful
- pointless; unimportant; trifling
- inane or foolishdon't be so futile!
Word Origin and History for futilely
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.