errand

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fool's errand

A task that has little to no chance of being successful or beneficial. Giving the baby a bath before he eats spaghetti is a fool's errand.
See also: errand

sleeveless errand

A futile task. Studying for this class is a sleeveless errand. I'll never get an A—why should I even try? We like to haze the new chefs by sending them on some sleeveless errand. Usually we have them go to the market for oyster bones.
See also: errand

*on a fool's errand

Fig. involved in a useless journey or task. (*Typically: be ~; go ~.) Bill went for an interview, but he was on a fool's errand. The job had already been filled. I was sent on a fool's errand to buy some flowers. I knew the shop would be closed by then.
See also: errand, on

run an errand

 and do an errand; go on an errand
to take a short trip to do a specific thing; to complete an errand. I've got to run an errand. I'll be back in a minute. John has gone on an errand. He'll be back shortly.
See also: errand, run

send someone (out) on an errand

to dispatch someone to perform an errand. Jerry will be back in a minute. I sent him out on an errand. Who sent you on an errand?
See also: errand, on, send

run an errand

also run errands
to make a short trip for a particular purpose I've got to run a few errands and then stop by my mother's house.
Usage notes: usually to buy or deliver something
See also: errand, run

a fool's errand

an attempt to do something that has no chance of success Billions of dollars have been spent on long-range weather forecasting, but it's a fool's errand.
See also: errand

fool's errand

A fruitless mission or undertaking, as in Asking the bank for yet another loan was clearly a fool's errand. [c. 1700]
See also: errand

run an errand

Go to perform a commission, as in I spent the morning running household errands-to the cleaners, the supermarket, the hardware store . [c. 1500]
See also: errand, run
References in classic literature ?
He reached his door in much satisfaction that his errand was done: he opened it, and to his short-sighted eyes everything remained as he had left it, except that the fire sent out a welcome increase of heat.
The apparently indifferent nature of the errand seemed to make a ridiculous anticlimax to my prevision and my agitation.
In the shadows of the forest that flanks the crimson plain by the side of the Lost Sea of Korus in the Valley Dor, beneath the hurtling moons of Mars, speeding their meteoric way close above the bosom of the dying planet, I crept stealthily along the trail of a shadowy form that hugged the darker places with a persistency that proclaimed the sinister nature of its errand.
I tossed aside my papers, and was ready to run the errands.
The news spread quickly through Avonlea, and all day friends and neighbors thronged Green Gables and came and went on errands of kindness for the dead and living.
He appointed hours at which he was employed on business-errands for the inn, and places which lay on the way to those errands, for his meetings with Mrs.
The Sunday following, the little boy took something, and wrapped it up in a piece of paper, went downstairs, and stood in the doorway; and when the man who went on errands came past, he said to him--
I only desire her to go into the High Street' (and then he pulls out a turnover), 'to such a shop'; and then he tells them a long story of two fine neckcloths he had bid money for, and he wanted to have me go and make an errand to buy a neck to the turnover that he showed, to see if they would take my money for the neckcloths; to bid a shilling more, and haggle with them; and then he made more errands, and so continued to have such petty business to do, that I should be sure to stay a good while.
Returning from my first morning stroll, I again sallied out upon this special errand.
I never knew the carriage to go out so often before; when the mistress did not go out the master drove himself in the two-wheeled chaise; but now, whether it was master or the young ladies, or only an errand, Ginger and I were put in the carriage and James drove us.
I must get back to her, and I haven't got to my errand yet.
At her age, and in her state of health, were good spirits compatible with such an errand to a physician as the errand on which she was bent?
Now tell us what is your errand here, beneath the shadow of her who sits in stone?
So the tanner departed joyfully upon his errand, but much more interested in the dun deer of the forest than in any two-legged rovers therein.
Danglars and Caderousse set off upon their errand at full speed; but ere they had gone many steps they perceived a group advancing towards them, composed of the betrothed pair, a party of young girls in attendance on the bride, by whose side walked Dantes' father; the whole brought up by Fernand, whose lips wore their usual sinister smile.