To No Avail: What Is the Meaning of this Popular Idiom?

The phrase “to no avail” is one you may hear or see frequently in everyday conversation and writing. Here you will find the definition of the phrase and the story of its origin. You will also find examples of how to properly use the phrase in conversations/statements and find other ways to say this phrase while still conveying the same meaning.

To No Avail

To No Avail Meaning

The idiom “to no avail” means something that you tried to do to remedy a situation was of little use, ineffective or unsuccessful.

Origin of this phrase

The word avail means advantage. The phrase takes the definition of this word to describe a preconceived advantage to be of very little or no use. The phrase first appeared in the mid-1400s and has been used widely since.

“To No Avail” Examples

Examples in Statements

A statement made in the local newspaper about a family lost in a house fire.

  • “The first responders made every effort to rescue the family. However, their efforts were to no avail. The home was too engulfed with flames.”

A statement made in a popular entertainment magazine by a celebrity.

  • “I tried to help them adjust the script to make it a better movie, but my efforts were to no avail.”

Examples of Conversations

A conversation between two friends at school.

  • Friend 1: Did you ask Barbara out yet?
  • Friend 2: Yes.
  • Friend 1: What did she say?
  • Friend 2: She said no.
  • Friend 1: Really? Even after all you have done to try and impress her?
  • Friend 2: Yeah, I guess my efforts were to no avail.

A conversation between two co-workers on the job.

  • Co-worker 1: Did you get your raise yet?
  • Co-worker 2: No, I have not heard back about my evaluation yet. How about you?
  • Co-worker 1: Yes, I heard back yesterday. They gave me a small one, but not what I was hoping for. I guess my efforts to show them I was worth a bigger raise were to no avail.

Other examples:

  • The man tries hard to jack the car, but to no avail.
  • We searched the whole area but all to no avail. Robbie had disappeared.
  • They protested bitterly to their employers, but to no avail.
  • He tried hard to pick a hole in what I said, but to no avail.
  • The doctors tried everything to keep him alive but to no avail.

Other Ways to Say “To No Avail”

Like most phrases, there are other ways to say the phrase “to no avail.” Other ways you can convey the same meaning include:

  • Ineffective
  • Unsuccessful
  • Of little to no use

To No Avail Meaning | Picture

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