[ fyoot-l, fyoo-tahyl ]
See synonyms for: futilefutilely on Thesaurus.com

  1. incapable of producing any result; ineffective; useless; not successful: Attempting to force-feed the sick horse was futile.

  2. trifling; frivolous; unimportant.

Origin of futile

First recorded in 1545–55; from Latin fūtilis, futtilis “easily broken, vain, worthless,” equivalent to fūt- (akin to fundere “to pour, melt”) + -ilis-ile

synonym study For futile

1. See useless.

Other words from futile

  • fu·tile·ly, adverb
  • fu·tile·ness, noun
  • non·fu·tile, adjective
  • un·fu·tile, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use futile in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for futile


/ (ˈfjuːtaɪl) /

  1. having no effective result; unsuccessful

  2. pointless; unimportant; trifling

  1. inane or foolish: don't be so futile!

Origin of futile

C16: from Latin futtilis pouring out easily, worthless, from fundere to pour out

Derived forms of futile

  • futilely, adverb
  • futileness, 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