What Does To No Avail Mean

What Does To No Avail Mean?

The idiom ‘to no avail’ is another way of saying something failed to work out as planned. In other words, the action didn’t succeed. 

For example, if I say ‘I tried my best to win the game, but I couldn’t do it’, then I am telling you that I tried hard, but I wasn’t successful. It’s usually implied by the broader context of the conversation.

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What Does To No Avail Mean In English?

Not succeeding (to no avail) in English means that you don’t achieve your objectives, or what you do isn’t effective.

Some Examples Of Using To No Avail

He tried to warn me of the dangers of smoking, but to no avail.

Our team lost the cricket match. We played our best to no avail.

Origin Of To No Avail

The usage of this phrase originates in the mid 1400s, which explains why it sounds somewhat archaic. However, it doesn’t sound very awkward because normally “to avail” is used as a verb – to avail or not avail.

However, this phrase uses “available” in the context as a synonym for success or outcome.

If you can use the phrase in the correct context and imply success without using the word “success”, it instantly elevates your writing to a level of sophistication and elegance.


  • We tried everything we could think of, all to no avail.
  • He already called her many many times to no avail.
  • He tried to reschedule but was to no avail.

There are slight variations of the idiom “to no avail” that can be used:

To Little Avail

Rather than there being zero outcome of an action, this means there was little to none (i.e. negligible amount) of the desired result.

To/With Little To/Or No Avail

You could use this phrase to say something like “that didn’t really go anywhere” or “it was pretty insignificant.”

Further Examples

‘’They sent the correct version in time, but it was to little avail because we had already distributed them.’’

“We shouted at her, with little to no avail. She drove away quickly.”

Is ‘To no avail’ Formal?

“To no avail” means “in vain”. You use it when you want to say something has failed or been unsuccessful. For example, “I tried everything but to no avail.”

You can use to little avail in informal contexts, but this expression is used more extensively in formal writing. For example, you might say “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you,” instead of saying “Excuse me.”

Difference between ‘To no avail’ and ‘Of no avail’

‘Of no avail’ Unsuccessful, pointless, or useless mean not successful, not useful, or not worth doing.

It was to no avail means: unsuccessfully, in vain.

Other Ways To Say ‘To no avail’

You can use these expressions when you want to express something without success:

  • useless
  • pointless
  • in vain
  • no help
  • to no benefit
  • to no use
  • to no effect
  • with no gain
  • it will not serve
  • but not worth it
  • It will not be of any use
  • it doesn’t make any difference

‘Avail’ as a Verb

To avail yourself of something means make good use of it or take advantage of it. You may also say “avail yourself”, meaning “help yourself” or “be useful”.

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