At first sight it might seem ———— to talk about freedom of speech within authoritative regimes.

I want to say it is fruitless, has no result, in vain, useless, to talk about freedom of speech within dictatorships.

What is a good word or phrase for the blank? Or maybe one of those I already mentioned is good?

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    You might also look up pointless.
    – Xanne
    Jul 11, 2022 at 7:34
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    The word vain can be used on its own, by the way: it might seem vain to ... Or there's naive, (or naïve), over-optimistic, Pollyannaish. (I think bootless may have had its day!) it might seem like whistling Dixie to ...! Jul 11, 2022 at 7:56
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    @OldBrixtonian "vain" only has that meaning when used as an attributive adjective, like "vain attempt". Your use sounds like it means they have a high opinion of themself.
    – Barmar
    Jul 11, 2022 at 19:30
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    @Barmar it is vain to talk about. There's a famous line of Jeremy Bentham's: It is vain to talk of the interest of the community, without understanding what is the interest of the individual.' Jul 11, 2022 at 22:31
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    'Fruitless' sounds perfect - if it's 'fruitless' alone, not anything like 'a fruitless work to do.' Either way, in my view word, phrase or expression requests should be promoted to their own specialised community, perhaps named 'Vocabulary.' Sep 6, 2022 at 19:41

1 Answer 1


Counterintuitive might be a good choice here. You could also say unproductive or ill-fitting.

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    That fits in the blank, but I don't think it expresses the OP's intent.
    – Barmar
    Jul 11, 2022 at 19:27

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