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to no avail

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Also, of little or no avail. Of no use or advantage, ineffective, as in All his shouting was to no avail; no one could hear him, or The life jacket was of little or no avail. This idiom uses avail in the sense of “advantage” or “assistance,” a usage dating from the mid-1400s. Also see to little purpose.

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QUIZ YOURSELF ON "WAS" VS. "WERE"!

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Question 1 of 7
“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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