futility

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

futile +‎ -ity

Noun[edit]

futility (usually uncountable, plural futilities)

  1. (uncountable) The quality of being futile or useless.
    His taking the bar exam for a third time was pure futility.
  2. (countable) Something, especially an act, that is futile.
    • 1803, Thomas Jefferson, Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The Papers Of Thomas Jefferson[1]:
      But fashion and authority apart, and bringing Plato to the test of reason, take from him, his sophisms, futilities, and incomprehensibilities, and what remains?
    • 1843, Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present, book 3, chapter XIII, Democracy
      No man oppresses thee, can bid thee fetch or carry, come or go, without reason shewn. […] No man, wiser, unwiser, can make thee come or go: but thy own futilities, bewilderments, thy false appetites for Money, Windsor Georges and such like?
    • 1919, F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise[2]:
      But men will chatter and you and I will still shout our futilities to each other across the stage until the last silly curtain falls plump! upon our bobbing heads.
    • 2009 September 5, Robert Clark, “Exhibition preview: Goya: Fantasies, Follies And Disasters, Manchester”, Guardian:
      There are moments of profound existential angst, howls of despair at the absurd futilities of war and a sneering disgust at the soul-destroying wastage of human potential.
  3. (uncountable) Unimportance.

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