Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
June 25th, 2015
Episode 237 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 25, 2015 is: futile \FYOO-tul\ adjective 1 : serving no useful purpose : completely ineffective 2 : occupied with trifles : frivolous Examples: Unfortunately, all efforts to repair the damage ultimately proved futile. "Kumiko's journey is a tragic one. It is made clear from the beginning that her quest is futile." Josh Weitzel, Columbia Chronicle (Columbia College Chicago), April 13, 2015 Did you know? Futile floated into the English language in the mid-16th century from Middle French, where it took shape from the Latin adjective futilis, meaning "that easily pours out" or "leaky." That leak of information lets you in on how futile developed its "ineffective" and "frivolous" meanings: things that are leaky are of no use. In 1827, English author Robert Southey found use for the word by blending it into utilitarian to form futilitarian, a word that is used today for anyone who believes that human striving is futile.