I'm looking for a word that means "doing lots of work but in vain"

the amount of work done is a lot, but the results obtained is very small.

  • 3
    Unless this is poetry, it should be vain (not vein).
    – Bread
    Feb 26, 2018 at 12:17
  • 3
    As an aside, meeting the quality standards for SE sites is not that difficult. You just need to know what the quality standards are first, which is more difficult, but hardly a task requiring you to reach into greek mythology to find an appropriate metaphor.
    – Cubic
    Feb 26, 2018 at 12:34
  • 1
    This type of request has been asked again and again. There must be a way that visitors can find the answer immediately.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 26, 2018 at 15:37

1 Answer 1


A phrase you could use is "Sisyphean task/job/cycle", or simply "Sisyphean" as an adjective.

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down when they near the top, repeating this action for eternity. [source]

Therefore, you could say:

You are trying to accomplish a Sisyphean job.


Can you help me with the Sisyphean task of cleaning this dirty bathroom?

  • 2
    I feel cleaning a dirty bathroom should more appropriately be described as an herculean task ;)
    – Cubic
    Feb 26, 2018 at 12:32

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