futile


futile
futile, vain, fruitless, bootless, abortive all denote barren of result. Futile and vain parallel each other only when they imply failure to realize an immediate aim
{

it was equally in vain, and he soon wearied of his futile vigilance— Stevenson

}
Vain (see also VAIN 1) usually implies little more than simple failure; futile may connote the completeness of the failure or the unwisdom of the undertaking
{

all literature, art, and science are vain ... if they do not enable you to be glad— Ruskiny

}
{

Opposition . . . had been so futile that surrender seemed the only course open— Jones

}
Though both vain and futile may be applied to something contemplated but not yet tried, vain more often suggests a judgment based on previous experience and futile, one based on reasoning from self-evident principles
{

but it is vain to talk of form and symmetry to the pure expansionist— Babbitt

}
{

it is futile to ask which [Shakespeare or Dante] undertook the more difficult job— T. S. Eliot

}
Fruitless is often interchangeable with vain. But its basic meaning makes it especially applicable to undertakings that entail long, patient, arduous effort and severe disappointment
{

whom he had long time sought with fruitless suit— Spenser

}
{

he nursed a grievance and, with Scotch persistence, kept up for years his fruitless efforts at reinstatement— Ashley

}
Bootless, chiefly poetic, is especially applied to petitions or efforts to obtain relief
{

they would not pity me, yet plead I must; and bootless unto them— Shak.

}
{

no guides were to be found, and in the next summer the young man returned from his bootless errand— Parkman

}
Abortive implies failure before plans are matured or activities begun
{

an abortive conspiracy

}
{

an abortive attempt to break jail

}
{

he had stirred up the Maronites to attack us . . . had I not brought up unexpectedly so many Arabs as rendered the scheme abortiveScott

}
{

some of them would play a considerable part in the abortive renaissance of the 1890's— Malcolm Cowley

}
Analogous words: *vain, idle, otiose, nugatory: ineffective, ineffectual, inefficacious
Contrasted words: effectual, *effective, efficacious: fruitful (see FERTILE)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • futile — [ fytil ] adj. • XIVe; lat. futilis 1 ♦ Qui est dépourvu de sérieux, qui ne mérite pas qu on s y arrête. ⇒ insignifiant. Discours, propos futiles. ⇒ creux, frivole, vain, vide. Sous le prétexte le plus futile. ⇒ léger; puéril. S occuper de choses …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Futile — Fu tile (?; 277), a. [L. futilis that easily pours out, that easily lets loose, vain, worthless, from the root of fundere to pour out: cf. F. futile. See {Fuse}, v. t.] [1913 Webster] 1. Talkative; loquacious; tattling. [Obs.] [1913 Webster]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • futile — [fyo͞ot′ l; ] chiefly Brit & Cdn [, fyo͞o′tīl΄] adj. [< Fr or L: Fr futile < L futilis, lit., that easily pours out, hence untrustworthy, worthless, futile < base of fundere: see FOUND3] 1. a) that could not succeed; useless; vain b)… …   English World dictionary

  • futile — I adjective abortive, barren, bootless, feckless, fruitless, futilis, gainless, hopeless, inanis, ineffective, ineffectual, inefficacious, insignificant, inutile, nugatory, otiose, profitless, resultless, unavailing, unfruitful, unimportant,… …   Law dictionary

  • futile — 1550s, from M.Fr. futile, from L. futilis vain, worthless, futile, lit. 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 (Cf. found) (2)). Related:… …   Etymology dictionary

  • futile — FUTILE. adj. de tout genre. Frivole, Qui est de peu de consequence, de peu de consideration. Raison futile. discours futile …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • futile — / futile/ agg. [dal lat. futĭlis, propr. che lascia scorrere ]. 1. [privo di profondità, di scarsa serietà: argomenti, discorsi f. ] ▶◀ e ◀▶ [➨ frivolo (1)]. 2. [di scarso peso, di poca importanza: litigare per f. motivi ] ▶◀ banale,… …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • futile — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ producing no useful result; pointless. DERIVATIVES futilely adverb futility noun. ORIGIN Latin futilis leaky, futile …   English terms dictionary

  • Futĭle — (röm. Ant.), Opfergefäße in dem Tempel der Vesta, ohne Füße …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • FUTILE — Lutatio ad Stat. Theb. l. 7. v. 297. vas fuit lato ove, quo utebantur in sacris Deae Vestae; quia aqua ad sacra Vestae in terra non ponitur, quod si fiat, piaculumest, ideo excogitatum est vas, quod stare non posset, sed si positum statim… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.