Fool’s errand

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The expression fool’s errand dates to 1700s. We will examine the definition of the term fool’s errand, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A fool’s errand is a task that is futile, a task that has little hope of being successful. A fool’s errand is a waste of one’s time. The term fool’s errand came into use in the 1700s, originally being mostly used when playing a trick on someone who is feeble-minded. Today, the expression fool’s errand is mostly used to mean something that is a waste of someone’s time and talent, a task that should never have been assigned or attempted due to its triviality. Note that the word fool’s is the singular possessive. The plural form of fool’s errand is fool’s errands.


Here’s a dirty little secret: prognostication is a fool’s errand, and few have consistently forecasted the future of financial markets. (The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

“Predicting what they ultimately will do when they get to the court and have a lifetime appointment is a fool’s errand in my mind,” he said. (The Auburn Citizen)

It’s a fool’s errand, as the world has grown past his passion for vinyl — and for him. (The Honolulu Star Adviser)

Reconciliation can be a fool’s errand in the cutthroat NFL, where recyclable players are discarded like junk mail and cultural scandals leave everyone desperate for a bath. (The Jamestown Sun)

Hayes, a former deputy Interior secretary under President Barack Obama, said, “It would be a fool’s errand for the Department of Energy to try to concoct a national security argument as a solution to a problem that does not exist.” (The Longview News-Journal)