to no avail

Idioms & Phrases

to no avail

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.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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