Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
- (idiomatic) A foolish undertaking, especially one that is purposeless, fruitless, nonsensical, or certain to fail.
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, Michael S. Serrill, "Diplomacy To Dream the Impossible Dream," Time, 7 Mar.,
- 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.
- (idiomatic) Such an undertaking, assigned as a prank.