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I'm looking for a word that can be used to refer to something (an action or expression or object) that has failed to fulfill its raison d'être.

Examples:

  1. Action: A charitable organization collected donations to be allocated to a hospital. But the organization bought a painting with the collections and then donated that to the hospital. I wanna form a sentence like: "The _____ donation was never meant to be made in good faith."

'Failed' can't be used in the blank as technically a donation was made and technically it's not illegal either. But still the donation didn't serve its intrinsic purpose of providing an asset that would broaden the reach of medical facilities.

  1. Expression: The organization will have to apologize, I guess. Here, the intention is to serve an apology, none is expressly served. I wanna refer to it as: "The ____ apology implies a lack of actual remorse on the directors of the board."

Again, either failed or more such words can be used but they don't convey that the expression of guilt didn't serve its apparent purpose and only hoodwinked some into believing that an apology has been rendered while deceptively avoiding delivering one.

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  • The problem seems to be that "The … donation was never meant to be made in good faith" does not exemplify anything like "A word that conveys that an act or expression or object had failed to fulfill its purpose" The Question speaks of failure; the example of deceit. How could they be related? "The … donation was never meant in good faith" might change something, as might "The … donation was never meant to be made…" Again, how could they be related? May 8 '20 at 19:27
  • This question is not clear enough to ne answered.
    – Xanne
    Jun 7 '20 at 5:08
  • @Robbie, Xanne Agreed. I've CV-d. Feb 2 at 17:54
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    I'm hearing purported, as in said to be one thing but not not delivering. Lip service. Feb 4 at 21:09
  • How do you think "The … donation was never meant to be made in good faith" applies to the Question? They seem almost diametrically opposed, unless you can explain why not. Either way, how does your "… never meant to be made in good faith" differ from "…not made in good faith"? How does what was achieved depend on what was purposed? Feb 6 at 21:10
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What you're asking for is a way of saying that even though something is normally meant in a certain way, somebody is simply going through the motions in a kind of insincere fashion. They're not really concerned with the normal result of the action, but are doing it for the sake of appearances only.

An idiom that expressed this is for show:

[Merriam-Webster]
1 : intended to be seen but not used or bought
// We're not supposed to eat the fruit on the table. It's just for show.
2 disapproving : done in order to gain the approval or favor of others
// He says he enjoys classical music, but it's only for show.


An actual adjective that fits the example sentences is perfunctory:

[Merriam-Webster]
1 : characterized by routine or superficiality : MECHANICAL
// a perfunctory smile
2 : lacking in interest or enthusiasm

So:

The perfunctory donation was never meant to be made in good faith.
The perfunctory apology implies a lack of actual remorse on the directors of the board.

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If the effort was not intended to be effective, I'd call it bogus:

Not genuine or true; fake.

If an effort "fell flat", presumably without intent, it's often referred to as a dud:

A thing that fails to work properly or is otherwise unsatisfactory or worthless.

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Ineffective fits both the question title and the example sentences.
The ineffective donation ...
The ineffective apology ...

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“The grandiose donation was never meant to be made in good faith."

“The duplicitous apology implies a lack of actual remorse on the directors of the board."

grandiose: Donation implies magnanimity.

From M-W dictionary: grandiose: impressive because of uncommon largeness, scope, effect, or grandeur.

duplicitous: because you use the word hoodwinked in your question.

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"The so-called donation was never meant to be made in good faith."

"The so-called apology implies a lack of actual remorse on the directors of the board."

OED

So called (adj.) 2. In attributive use (hyphenated): Called or designated by this name or term, but not properly entitled to it or correctly described by it. Also loosely or catachrestically as a term of abuse.

1884 A. R. Pennington Wiclif vi. 193 Their so-called poverty is nothing else but a diabolical lie.

1980 W. Safire in N.Y. Times Mag. 13 Jan. 6/1 Examples of sneer words are ‘self-proclaimed’, ‘would-be’, ‘purported’ and that Soviet favorite, ‘so-called’.

Note the 1980 quote also gives you alternatives.

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I would say

The fruitless donation was never meant to be made in good faith.

"Fruitless" means "failing to achieve the desired results; unproductive or useless." (Oxford Languages)

As for your second sentence, I would say

The disappointing apology implies a lack of actual remorse on the directors of the board.

("Disappointing" is defined as "not as good as you had hoped or expected; not satisfactory" - Cambridge. Actually, disappointing may also be a good match for "donation" in your first sentence as well)

If you want to emphasise more that it is a deceiving apology, you could use such adjectives as fake, pretended, formal, professed. I particularly like professed apology, because "professed" is

used to refer to a belief or feeling that someone says they have or feel, but is probably not sincere (Cambridge)

For example (WordHippo)

And their professed adhesion to the economic formula of Socialism would not of itself be good enough to alter my attitude towards them.

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I'd say

  • "The donation made in vain was never meant to be made in good faith.".

In the second sentence "neglected" seems to fit the case.

  • The neglected apology implies a lack of actual remorse on the part of the directors of the board.

Addition due to a comment from user Rahul Ahuja

1.

(OALD) (idiom) without success (Topics "difficulty and failure")

(What is not successful is a failure and vice versa.)

2.

The only description in this second query is that there is an intention to make an apology but this is not done. more than that can't be inferred. The term sought must remain then within the bounds of this specification; of course, one may be more precise.

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  • Unfortunately, your suggestions do not convey the meaning I'm looking for. May 7 '20 at 15:59

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