Reference > Roget’s > International Thesaurus > 645. Inutility.
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Mawson, C.O.S., ed. (1870–1938). Roget’s International Thesaurus. 1922.
 
Class V. Words Releasing to the Voluntary Powers
Division (I) Individual Volition
Section II. Prospective Volition
2. Degree of Subservience
 
645. Inutility.
 
  
NOUN:INUTILITY; uselessness &c. adj.; inefficacy, futility; ineptitude, inaptitude; inadequacy (insufficiency) [See Insufficiency]; unfitness; inefficiency (incompetence) [See Impotence]; unskillfulness [See Unskillfulness]; disservice; unfruitfulness (unproductiveness) [See Unproductiveness]; labor -in vain, - lost, - of Sisyphus; lost -trouble, - labor; work of Penelope; Penelope’s web; sleeveless [obs.] -, bootless- errand; wild-goose chase, mere farce.
  REDUNDANCE, supererogation [See Redundance]; tautology (repetition) [See Repetition].
  WORTHLESSNESS; vanity, vanitas vanitatum [L.], inanity, nugacity; triviality (unimportance) [See Unimportance].
  worthless residue, caput mortuum [L., old chem.]; waste paper, dead letter; blunt tool.
  RUBBISH, junk, lumber, litter, odds and ends, cast-off clothes; button top; shoddy; rags, orts [archaic], leavings, dross, trash, refuse, sweepings, scourings, offscourings, waste, rubble, débris [F.]; chaff, stubble, broken meat; dregs (dirt) [See Uncleanness]; weeds, tares; rubbish heap, dust hole; rudera [L.], deads, slag.
  IDLER; fruges consumere natus [Horace] (drone) [See Inactivity].
  
VERB:BE USELESS &c. adj.; go a-begging (redundant) [See Redundance]; fail [See Failure].
  LABOR IN VAIN; seek -, strive- after impossibilities; use vain efforts, roll the stone of Sisyphus, beat the air, lash the waves, battre l’eau avec un bâton [F.], donner un coup d’épée dans l’eau [F.], fish in the air, milk the ram, drop a bucket into an empty well, pour water into a sieve, sow the sand; bay the moon; preach -, speak- to the winds; whistle jigs to a milestone; kick against the pricks, se battre contre des moulins [F.]; lock the stable door when the steed is stolen (too late) [See Intempestivity]; hold a farthing candle to the sun; cast pearls before swine (waste) [See Waste]; carry coals to Newcastle (redundance) [See Redundance]; wash a blackamoor white (impossible) [See Impossibility].
  RENDER USELESS &c. adj.; dismantle, dismast, dismount, disqualify, disable; unrig [chiefly naut.]; hamstring, hock or hough, cripple, lame (injure) [See Deterioration]; spike guns, clip the wings; put out of gear; throw a wrench in the machinery, throw a monkey-wrench into the works.
  
ADJECTIVE:USELESS, inutile, nugatory, inefficacious, futile, unavailing, bootless; inoperative [See Impotence]; inadequate (insufficient) [See Insufficiency]; inservient [obs.], inept, inefficient (impotent) [See Impotence]; of no avail (use) [See Utility]; ineffectual [See failure]; incompetent (unskillful) [See Unskillfulness]; “weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable” [Hamlet]; superfluous (redundant) [See Redundance]; dispensable; thrown away (wasted) [See Waste]; abortive (immature) [See Nonpreparation].
  WORTHLESS, valueless, unsalable; not worth a straw (trifling) [See Unimportance]; dear at any price.
  VAIN, empty, inane; gainless, profitless, fruitless; unserviceable, unprofitable; ill-spent; effete, barren, sterile, impotent, worn out; unproductive [See Unproductiveness]; hors de combat [F.], past work (impaired) [See Deterioration]; obsolete (old) [See Oldness]; fit for the dust hole; good for nothing; of no earthly use; not worth -having, - powder and shot; leading to no end, uncalled for; unnecessary, unneeded, superfluous.
  
ADVERB:USELESSLY &c. adj.; to -little, - no, - little or no- purpose.
  
INTERJECTION:cui bono? [L.]; what’s the good! what’s the use!
  
QUOTATIONS:
  1. Actum ne agas.
  2. Chercher une aiguille dans une botte de foin.
  3. Tanto buon che val niente.
  4. Like sending them ruffles, when wanting a shirt.—Sorbienne
  5. One might as well expect the Astronomer Royal to tell the time in a catacomb.—Shaw

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