Is there an expression for when you have something but cannot use it or it is meaningless to use it. For example "one has the right to strike but cannot use it".

  • 1
    A chimera, an illusion.
    – KCH
    Apr 27, 2014 at 20:26
  • @user73381 Can you make the OP more explicit?
    – Elian
    Apr 27, 2014 at 21:13
  • useless, pointless, fruitless, unproductive?
    – Jim
    Apr 27, 2014 at 21:21
  • Either you have the right to strike or you don't. You can't have it both ways. You have the right to vote or you don't. If you possess something useless, then it's useless. It's excess baggage if it's physical. If it's emotional, then you're stuck with it. If you mean something different, please rephrase the question. Apr 27, 2014 at 21:23

5 Answers 5


Fifth wheel: "A fifth wheel is something unnecessary or useless."


What about Cosmetic

Cosmetic: Decorative rather than functional.


Their right to strike is about as much use as owning a chocolate teapot.

Millions of people have a right to strike but don't use it because they'd be shooting themselves in the foot (doing themselves more harm than good.)

The question makes perfect sense. In fact, the example given is very common.


striking would be an act of futility



  1. incapable of producing any result; ineffective; useless; not successful: Attempting to force-feed the sick horse was futile.
  2. trifling; frivolous; unimportant.

When you have something but cannot use it, you feel frustrated to not be able to use it.

frustrated: having feelings of dissatisfaction or lack of fulfillment.

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