1

What is the word for something where no matter how many times we repeat an action, it has no bearing on the outcome?

e.g. pressing the 'close doors' button on an elevator repeatedly doesn't make the doors close faster.

e.g. repeatedly clicking the mouse when your computer freezes doesn't help it unfreeze.

Example sentence:

"Repeatedly pressing the 'close doors' button in an elevator is a [insert word here] action"

  • Hello, Jack, and welcome to EL&U. While your question is quite interesting, it would benefit from including a sample sentence with a blank for the target language. – Cascabel Apr 5 '19 at 22:20
  • @Cascabel Hmm, not too sure how it could be used in a sentence. Other than saying "repeatedly pressing the 'close doors' button in an elevator is a [insert word here] action" – jackchmbrln Apr 5 '19 at 22:28
  • I see Cascabel is beating a dead horse again. – Hot Licks Apr 6 '19 at 1:46
  • @HotLicks Ever read Red Sky at Morning? The "best" way to play "beat a dead horse" is it's gotta be left out in the sun for a couple days, the longer the better, and you gotta actually fall into it, guts and all. Seriously...I been away for awhile. It's no longer a requirement, or am I just flogging my norton? – Cascabel Apr 6 '19 at 2:07
  • @Cascabel - Will you get off your high horse! (Or at least quit gunning the engine.) – Hot Licks Apr 6 '19 at 21:25
2

I'd suggest the word Futile.

According to Cambridge dictionary:

(of actions) having no effect or achieving nothing

"His men made repeated but ultimately futile attempts to retrieve his body from no-man's land."

Synonyms: fruitless, vain, pointless.

1

An action is idempotent if performing it multiple times has the same effect as performing it just once.

Pressing the 'close doors' button in an elevator is an idempotent action

  • I didn't see your answer while I was working on mine. I'll delete it now. I think it's a good answer, obviously. – KannE Apr 5 '19 at 23:51
1

otiose (adjective)

Definitions of otiose (per M-W):

1 : producing no useful result : FUTILE

2 : being at leisure : IDLE

3 : lacking use or effect : FUNCTIONLESS

OTIOSE suggests that something serves no purpose and is either an encumbrance or a superfluity.

I chose otiose for its various applicable meanings and nuances, for example, superfluity (as defined by ODO).

Definition of otiose and example sentence (per ODO):

Serving no practical purpose or result.

‘there were occasions when I felt my efforts were rather otiose’

0

You could call it:

ineffectual

not producing the proper or intended effect

-Merriam Webster online

i.e.

Repeatedly pressing the 'close doors' button in an elevator is an ineffectual action

Not a single word, but:

illusion of control

The illusion of control is the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events; for example, it occurs when someone feels a sense of control over outcomes that they demonstrably do not influence.

Wikipedia

It is a type of cognitive bias sometimes called a positive illusion. Sorry for the Wiki quote...still struggling through Thompson and Angler to find a better source.

You might find this post on Psychology and Neuroscience.SE (beta) relevant.

  • Hi Cascabel, thank you for your detailed answer. Now, I may be imagining things but I am 95% sure that I read something somewhere about a single word for such an action. So, for now, I won't mark this as the accepted answer – jackchmbrln Apr 5 '19 at 22:27
  • @jackchmbrln if you have any other clues please include feel free to edit your Q....BTW...you still need to include a sample sentence. Please think about the part of speech. – Cascabel Apr 5 '19 at 22:28
0

A repeated but unnecessary action could be called redundant.

Note: I was going to suggest idempotent, but had to content myself with upvoting an answer that beat me to the punch!

  • 1
    Regarding idempotent: Me, too! Must type faster... – KannE Apr 10 '19 at 1:41
0

Superfluous unnecessary, especially through being more than enough. Source

-1

an effete action or result TFD

depleted of vitality, force, or effectiveness; exhausted

As in:

With his screen frozen, he resorted to the effete and repetitive clicking of the computer mouse.

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