I have a friend who insists that he is using the expression, "to no avail" properly when he says (quite frequently), "That ticked me off to no avail", after he gets upset by something. I tried to explain to him that this is an improper use of the expression, and that a proper use would be, "I studied for the exam to no avail" (after receiving a failing grade). Another example I used was, "I dieted to no avail" (after weighing myself and discovering that despite my dieting, I had not lost any weight). Anyway, I know that I am correct in my examples but could the expression also be used in the context that my friend is trying to use it in? Thanks in advance!
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Comments  (Page 3) 
I believe you are correct and that your friend is using it improperly. You have tried to correct him, but to no avail. lol

He would be using it correctly if he said, "that really upset me and I have tried to bite my tongue, but to no avail".
I think the expression, "to no avail" means I wasted my precious time studying for an exam and I failed = I studied for an exam to no avail.

The expression "to no avail" means "wasted efforts"

Best Regards
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Stop correcting your friends! I have a co-worker who does this constantly and now people rarely speak when shes in the room.