The Grammarphobia Blog

Is resistance futile?

Q: We have a bet going on (thankfully no more is at stake than a Caramel Frap at Starbucks). I say the word “futile” is pronounced as FEW-tile. A coworker thinks it’s pronounced FEW-dul (kind of like “feudal”). I’m thinking that a billion Borg drones, saying “resistance is futile,” can’t be wrong.

A: The adjective “futile” is most often pronounced FEW-till, less often with a long “i,” as in FEW-tile. Both pronunciations are correct.

As for FEW-dul, it sounds as if your coworker’s pronunciation has been influenced by the knights of Camelot, not the cyborgs of Star Trek.

The word “futile,” by the way, comes from the Latin futtilis, meaning leaky, untrustworthy, or useless.

Enjoy your Caramel Frappuccino – and your biological distinctiveness. Watch out for the Borg!

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