Imagine I have been writing a story for several years and then my copybook in which I was writing it disappeared. How can I put this 'pointless effort' in one word?

"Well, that was a ..."

  • Fiasco, perhaps?
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 9:24
  • 3
    I sense a discrepancy between the question title and the text. What is the importance of the external event (disappearing)? What is pointless actually: the writing, the storage (copybook), the publication? Having been writing for years is not pointless, unless you focus on the "copybook" only Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 9:52
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the sought after term is not properly defined. Please describe why the effort was pointless.
    – Helmar
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 11:27
  • Guessing: Catastrophe? Disaster? I agree with @Helmar. Also voting to close. Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 0:22

4 Answers 4


Futile [fyoot-l, fyoo-tahyl] adjective 1. incapable of producing any result; ineffective; useless; not successful: Attempting to force-feed the sick horse was futile. 2. trifling; frivolous; unimportant.

  • 1
    Welcome to ELU.SE. kaniki, while your answer is fitting, this site strives to provide objective answers. As it stands your answer seems purely subjective and could be improved by adding references. Take the tour or have a look at the help center to find out more about good answers.
    – Helmar
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 10:34

(In) vain should work.

"Well, that was a vain effort".
"Well, that effort was in vain".


vain adjective
2:  marked by futility or ineffectualness :  unsuccessful,useless : vain efforts to escape

- in vain

1:  to no end :  without success or result : her efforts were in vain

A vain effort to quell the public's fears only made matters worse.

Volunteers searched the area in the vain hope of finding clues.


Classically speaking this would be Sisyphean.

In Greek mythology Sisyphus was the king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it come back to hit him, repeating this action for eternity. Through the classical influence on modern culture, tasks that are both laborious and futile are therefore described as Sisyphean.

Depending on the actual amount of effort involved in the writing process I may be on a bit of a hyperbole, though. For you to judge.



Well, that was all for naught!

(all) for naught (slightly formal)

without achievement or result

Marge's time in jail wasn't all for naught – she earned a college degree while she was there.
. Usage notes: sometimes, in less formal use, nothing is substituted for naught:

I would hate to think that what we'd tried to do was all for nothing.

Etymology: based on the literal meaning of naught (zero or nothing)

Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms

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