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[in-i-fek-choo-uh l]
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  1. not effectual; without satisfactory or decisive effect: an ineffectual remedy.
  2. unavailing; futile: His efforts to sell the house were ineffectual.
  3. powerless; impotent.
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Origin of ineffectual

late Middle English word dating back to 1375–1425; see origin at in-3, effectual
Related formsin·ef·fec·tu·al·i·ty, in·ef·fec·tu·al·ness, nounin·ef·fec·tu·al·ly, adverb


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2. ineffective, fruitless, pointless, abortive. See useless. 3. feeble, weak.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ineffectually

Historical Examples

  • Cunningly did he ply his sword before them, but ineffectually.

    The Tavern Knight

    Rafael Sabatini

  • Again he searched his own thoughts; nor ineffectually as before.

    A Simple Story

    Mrs. Inchbald

  • They strove earnestly but ineffectually to trace the necklace.

    The Queen's Necklace

    Alexandre Dumas pre

  • Similar opposition was offered at many other points, but ineffectually.

  • I endeavoured to pacify him, by representing the danger, but ineffectually.

British Dictionary definitions for ineffectually


  1. having no effect or an inadequate effect
  2. lacking in power or forcefulness; impotentan ineffectual ruler
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Derived Formsineffectuality or ineffectualness, nounineffectually, adverb
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

Word Origin and History for ineffectually



early 15c., from in- (1) "not, opposite of" + effectual. Related: Ineffectually; ineffectuality.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper