[fyoot-l, fyoo-tahyl]


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 formsfu·tile·ly, adverbfu·tile·ness, nounnon·fu·tile, adjectiveun·fu·tile, adjective

Synonyms for futile

1. See useless.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for futilely

unsuccessfully, futilely, ineffectually, uselessly

Examples from the Web for futilely

Contemporary Examples of futilely

Historical Examples of futilely

  • He had waited too often and futilely in the past for porcupines to unroll, to waste any more time.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for futilely



having no effective result; unsuccessful
pointless; unimportant; trifling
inane or foolishdon't be so futile!
Derived Formsfutilely, adverbfutileness, noun

Word Origin for futile

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

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper