"incapable of producing result," 1550s, from French futile or directly from Latin futilis, futtilis "vain, worthless, futile," a figurative use, literally "pouring out easily, easily emptied" (the Latin adjective used as a noun meant "a water vessel broad above and pointed below"), hence "leaky, unreliable," from fundere "to pour, melt," from nasalized form of PIE root *gheu- "to pour." Related: Futilely.
It forms all or part of: alchemy; chyle; chyme; confound; confuse; diffuse; diffusion; effuse; effusion; effusive; fondant; fondue; font (n.2) "complete set of characters of a particular face and size of type;" found (v.2) "to cast metal;" foundry; funnel; fuse (v.) "to melt, make liquid by heat;" fusible; fusion; futile; futility; geyser; gush; gust (n.) "sudden squall of wind;" gut; infuse; ingot; parenchyma; perfuse; perfusion; profuse; refund; refuse (v.) "reject, disregard, avoid;" refuse (n.) "waste material, trash;" suffuse; suffusion; transfuse; transfusion.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek khein "to pour," khoane "funnel," khymos "juice;" Latin fundere (past participle fusus) "melt, cast, pour out;" Gothic giutan, Old English geotan "to pour;" Old English guttas (plural) "bowels, entrails;" Old Norse geysa "to gush;" German Gosse "gutter, drain."
"trifling, of no value; invalid, futile," c. 1600, from Latin nugatorius "worthless, trifling, futile," from nugator "jester, trifler, braggart," from nugatus, past participle of nugari "to trifle, jest, play the fool," from nugæ "jokes, jests, trifles," a word of unknown origin.
in Greek mythology, one of the 50 daughters of Danaus, king of Argos, from Greek Danaides (plural). On command of their father, all (except Hypermnestra) killed their husbands on their wedding night and consequently were condemned in Hades to draw water perpetually in bottomless buckets. Hence often in reference to endless, futile labor. Related: Danaidean.
1794, "unfruitful, futile," from Latin otiosus "having leisure or ease, unoccupied, idle, not busy" (source of French oiseux, Spanish ocioso, Italian otioso), from otium "leisure, free time, freedom from business," a word of unknown origin. Meaning "at leisure, idle" is recorded from 1850. Compare Latin phrase otium cum dignitate "leisure with dignity." Earlier adjective in English was otious "at ease" (1610s), and Middle English had noun otiosity (late 15c.).
1620s, "sham-fight for exercise or practice," from Latinized form of Greek skiamakhia "shadow-fighting, a sham fight," from skia "shade, shadow" (see Ascians) + makhē "battle" (see -machy). The notion in the Greek word is said sometimes to be "fighting in the shade" (i.e. practicing in school; ancient teachers taught in shaded public places such as porches and groves), but it seems also to have had a sense of "fighting with shadows, shadow-boxing." In English, often figurative, of futile combat with an imaginary enemy.