noun, plural fu·til·i·ties for 2, 3.

the quality of being futile; ineffectiveness; uselessness.
a trifle or frivolity: the large collection of futilities that clutter our minds.
a futile act or event.

Origin of futility

From the Latin word fūtilitās, dating back to 1615–25. See futile, -ity
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for futility

Contemporary Examples of futility

Historical Examples of futility

  • It was evident that Dick perceived the futility of argument.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • As an instance of the futility of comparisons, I will mention one experience.

    In the Heart of Vosges

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • The futility of argument was apparent, and he turned and left the workshop.

    The Monster Men

    Edgar Rice Burroughs

  • But I want you to understand the futility of all you may think needful to tell me.

  • The sight produced in him a melancholy impression of immensity and futility.

    The Downfall

    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for futility


noun plural -ties

lack of effectiveness or success
lack of purpose or meaning
something futile
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 futility

1620s, from French futilité or directly from Latin futilitatem (nominative futilitas) "worthlessness," from futilis (see futile). Hence, jocular futilitarian (1827).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper