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[yoos-lis] /ˈyus lɪs/
of no use; not serving the purpose or any purpose; unavailing or futile:
It is useless to reason with him.
without useful qualities; of no practical good:
a useless person; a useless gadget.
Origin of useless
First recorded in 1585-95; use + -less
Related forms
uselessly, adverb
uselessness, noun
1. fruitless, profitless, valueless, worthless, inutile. Useless, futile, ineffectual, vain refer to that which is unavailing. That is useless which is unavailing because of the circumstances of the case or some inherent defect: It is useless to cry over spilt milk. Futile suggests wasted effort and complete failure to attain a desired end: All attempts were futile. That which is ineffectual weakly applies energy in an ill-advised way and does not produce a desired effect: an ineffectual effort. That which is vain is fruitless or hopeless even after all possible effort: It is vain to keep on hoping. 2. unserviceable, unusable.
1. effective. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for uselessness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Only last summer taught me the uselessness of an extra pair of trousers.

    The Forest Stewart Edward White
  • Hrunting is bewitched, laid under a spell of uselessness, along with all other swords.

    Beowulf Anonymous
  • But he stopped, realizing the uselessness of such an explanation.

    A Spirit in Prison Robert Hichens
  • The uselessness of philosophers is explained by the circumstance that mankind will not use them.

    The Republic Plato
  • And as he thought of the uselessness of it he laughed bitterly to himself.

    The Night Riders Ridgwell Cullum
  • Mr. Rogers himself could see the uselessness of the endeavor.

  • Our hero spoke in so decided a tone that he understood the uselessness of the attempt.

    The Young Miner Horatio Alger, Jr.
  • His vocabulary sighed as if admitting defeat and uselessness.

    Erik Dorn

    Ben Hecht
  • Clarence felt the uselessness of further parley, and rode away.

British Dictionary definitions for uselessness


having no practical use or advantage
(informal) ineffectual, weak, or stupid: he's useless at history
Derived Forms
uselessly, adverb
uselessness, noun
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
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Word Origin and History for uselessness



1590s, from use (n.) + -less. Related: Uselessly; uselessness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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