to little purpose

to little purpose

Also, to no purpose. Of little or no use, in vain, as in Hiring a new lawyer will be to little purpose. The related phrases are sometimes combined in to little or no purpose and used as a general indicator of futility. To little purpose was first recorded in 1560. For a synonym, see to no avail; also see to good purpose.
See also: little, purpose

to little/good/some/no ˈpurpose

(formal) with little, good, etc. result or effect: Another meeting was held, to little purpose.She had used the profits to good purpose and upgraded their software.
See also: good, little, no, purpose
References in classic literature ?
Thrones are at this time shaken and it is to little purpose for devoted hearts to serve the interests of princes.
It was to little purpose that Fouquet had squandered thirty millions of francs in the fountains of his gardens, in the crucibles of his sculptors, in the writing-desks of his literary friends, in the portfolios of his painters; vainly had he fancied that thereby he might be remembered.
It is to little purpose to say, that a neglect or omission of this kind would not be likely to take place.
The reasonings contained in these papers must have been employed to little purpose indeed, if it could be necessary now to disprove the reality of this danger.
I did not know what to think of all this, and like every one who does not know what to think I thought a great deal, and to little purpose.
Joe whistled a long, perplexed whistle, and racked his brains to little purpose.
He tried to climb from his horse on to the top of the wall, but he was so bruised and battered that he could not even dismount; and so from the back of his horse he began to utter such maledictions and objurgations against those who were blanketing Sancho as it would be impossible to write down accurately: they, however, did not stay their laughter or their work for this, nor did the flying Sancho cease his lamentations, mingled now with threats, now with entreaties but all to little purpose, or none at all, until from pure weariness they left off.
I have read my New Testament to little purpose, indeed, if Christian mercy may not soften the hard sentence against her -- if Christian charity may not find a plea for her memory in the love and fidelity, the suffering and the sacrifice, of her whole life.
Arguably there is a debate to be had about who gets sent to clink for it seems to me that we are often too swift to incarcerate at great expense and to little purpose those who pose no threat and who could be punished in other more socially productive ways.
This might be surprising to some readers, since it seems we're surrounded with talk of one sort or another about race, but it's talk to little purpose if few of us are willing or able to listen.