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The Internet Dictionary: What Does To No Avail Mean?

To avail or to no avail?

23 October, 2022

The idiom “to no avail” is another way of saying some act was unsuccessful or ineffective as it did not achieve the desired outcome. In other words, it is a softer and more subtle way of implying failure. Usually, the intended outcome is implicit in the context of the wider speech mentioned before.

Origin

The usage of this idiom originated in the mid-1400s, which can explain why it sounds slightly archaic old-English speak. Some find it a strange expression for its slightly awkward phrasing as usually “avail” is used as a verb – to avail or not avail something. However this phrase uses “avail” in the context of a noun, as a synonym for “success” or “outcome”

If you are able to use the phrase in the right context and imply failure without using the word “fail”, it instantly elevates your English to a level of sophistication, elegance and a certain effortlessness.

Examples

“We tried all methods, all to no avail.”

“She already called him multiple times to no avail.”

“He had attempted to reschedule with the organiser, of no avail.”

Related Idioms

Slight variations of the idiom “to no avail” can be used:

  1. “to little avail”: rather than there being zero outcome or success of an action, this phrase means there was little to no (i.e. a negligible amount) outcome of what was intended.
  2. “to/with little to/or no avail”: this can also be used with a similar meaning as the above varied idiom to mean very little or negligible success.


Further Examples

“They sent the correct version in the evening, although to little avail as we had already circulated the documents”.

“We tried shouting after her, with little to no avail. Her car sped off”.

 



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