fool's errand

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18th century.[1]


  • (file)


fool's errand (plural fools' errands)

  1. (idiomatic) A foolish undertaking, especially one that is purposeless, fruitless, nonsensical, or certain to fail.
    Synonyms: idiot's errand, lost errand, sleeveless errand, wild-goose chase
    • 1821, Sir Walter Scott, chapter 1, in Kenilworth:
      If I were to travel only that I might be discontented with that which I can get at home, methinks I should go but on a fool's errand.
    • 1988 March 7, Michael S. Serrill, “Diplomacy To Dream the Impossible Dream”, in Time[1], archived from the original on 2013-06-30:
      Shultz took little notice of the Soviet view or that of others who said his Middle East mission was a fool's errand. "You can't be too afraid of failing," said the 67-year-old diplomat.
  2. (idiomatic) Such an undertaking, assigned as a prank.
    Synonym: snipe hunt


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gary Martin (1997–), “Fool's errand”, in The Phrase Finder.