I need a way to say something is useless, in that including it is actually harmful, but not so harshly.

As in,

"The last sentence is useless and should be omitted"

Where the last sentence in a paragraph is run-on, blather, useless, not interesting, misleading, something like that, kind of like this one ;)

  • 3
    How did Thesaurus redundicus answer such queries?
    – tchrist
    Jul 30, 2012 at 17:03
  • 6
    did you attempt to look "useless" up in an online thesaurus before asking? What did you find there? Why did it not meet your needs? Jul 30, 2012 at 20:11
  • 1
    This question clearly doesn't meet SE quality standards, it's easily answered with a thesaurus. Jul 30, 2012 at 23:47
  • What about "off topic or not constructive" like we see with closed questions on SE. Jul 31, 2012 at 2:59
  • @BrandonBertelsen We also have the general reference close reason here on EL&U.
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Jul 31, 2012 at 15:50

12 Answers 12


Consider extraneous, "Not belonging to, or dependent upon, a thing; without or beyond a thing; foreign", and synonyms like superfluous ("in excess of what is required or sufficient") or pleonastic ("Using an excessive number of words"). Other synonyms of superfluous include excessive, extra, supernumerary, surplus, unnecessary, extravagant, some of which apply.

  • 7
    I like superfluous Jul 30, 2012 at 18:07
  • Definitely not pleonastic, since they'd need a dictionary to know what you mean (and maybe not even a common dictionary, considering my OS is highlighting that word as "misspelled"). Jul 30, 2012 at 22:14
  • @BrendanLong, Yes, pleonastic may be a new word to some people, but since everybody (on ELU, anyway:) knows the word pleonasm ("Redundancy in wording") I thought it might not be too far out of the way. Jul 30, 2012 at 22:28
  • I'm only upvoting because of superfluous. We don't know exactly how much negativity OP's original "useless" is supposed to convey, but most likely it's a bit more than comes through with unnecessary. All the other suggestions are just a bit off the beaten track. Jul 30, 2012 at 22:29
  • 1
    @jwpat7: On reflection I can see the justification for either - both words have very similar connotations here. I still think superfluous would be used more often (if only because it's a more common word). I'm reading "useless" as primarily "serving no purpose", rather than "damaging by its very presence". Jul 31, 2012 at 1:55

My preference in this instance would be to use either prejudicial or detrimental as they convey the sense of 'harmful' as requested.

  • 1
    +1 for detrimental; but prejudicial may have harsher overtones than OP desires. Jul 30, 2012 at 17:57
  • @jwpat7 Thanks. I felt that 'prejudicial' conveyed the required professional sense of 'harmful.' There are varying degrees of prejudice and I never thought it particularly harsh. Jul 30, 2012 at 18:26
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    @TonyBalmforth, seems like prejudice would have overtly negative assumptions attached to it in a general and professional sense though.
    – ardent
    Jul 30, 2012 at 20:22
  • @ardentsonata I still quite like it. It doesn't seem any more negative than either 'useless' or 'harmful' but perhaps it's me! Jul 30, 2012 at 21:47

Sometimes English just doesn't contain a word with the precise meaning you desire.

That said, I offer irrelevant and unnecessary as options. I would contend that both are semantically equivalent to useless (which--as Jeff Atwood points out--is a still a perfectly good word for your situation), but they tend more to the negative in my mind.


I use redundant when someone has written something repetitive and unnecessary.


You could say, "Your last sentence detracts from an otherwise good paragraph. I think your point would be better made by deleting that sentence."


I've seen surplusage used in similar contexts. Strictly it just means superfluous, but 'where it is not necessary to have a sentence, it is necessary not to have a sentence.'


I would say the last sentence distracts from the intention of the paragraph and should be omitted.


In general, the sense of "useless" is that of something which will not bring any result (good or bad), in your example it seems that it is not the case of being useless, as using that sentence could result in a bad outcome.

You could say that the sentence is "not constructive", meaning that it is not going to bring about anything good and could actually do some harm if used.


I would suggest “irrelevant to the content/subject matter.” My old English professor would just call it “verbal deadwood.” So, in comparison, “useless: should be omitted” actually sounds kind.


How about "last sentence is ineffectual — delete"?


You can use crap:

The last sentence is crap and should be removed.

It gives you quite a bit of room to think later on what you meant by crap and how you wish to express the disapproval.

Also, you can also use dispensable:

The last sentence is dispensable and should be removed.

  • 1
    If the OP thinks useless is too harsh, how the heck would crap be an improvement?
    – Marthaª
    Sep 26, 2012 at 17:10

How about ignored? The last sentence may be ignored for the better. say it diplomatically.

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