9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[fyoot-l, fyoo-tahyl] /ˈfyut l, ˈfyu taɪl/
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 forms
futilely, adverb
futileness, noun
nonfutile, adjective
unfutile, adjective
1. See useless. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for futile
  • Those efforts proved futile, and he let his hair grow.
  • To critique how the dinosaurs and monsters were drawn would be a futile exercise.
  • Steering her was futile, and the vessel slid slowly down the wall of the gyre.
  • Two million people wandered the country in a futile quest for work.
  • Many thought it was futile, that the whole settlement of the area had been a mistake.
  • The idea of remaking it shot-for-shot seems both preposterous and futile.
  • After that, the realization set in that waiting for rescue was futile.
  • Though our efforts here may seem futile at times, they are making a difference.
  • The whine of a wood-milling machine made it futile to talk.
  • The wound ultimately killed him, but not before he was able to scurry up the mountain in a futile attempt at escape.
British Dictionary definitions for futile


having no effective result; unsuccessful
pointless; unimportant; trifling
inane or foolish: don't be so futile!
Derived Forms
futilely, adverb
futileness, noun
Word Origin
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for futile

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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for futile

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for futile

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with futile