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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Hello, JRU-- and welcome to English Forums.

Well, I cannot really judge what your friend intends-- that made me angry, but I won't let it really upset me and cause me to do something I'll regret? That would be a reasonably accurate use of the phrase. To no avail means with no advantage or to no purpose, uselessly, without effect, etc. If that is not what he means, then he is misusing the phrase.
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No it can't really.. I believe he must mean to say, "to no end."
To no end is not natural; no end would work.
The first post was the best so far... depending on his intention, he could be using the word properly. However, their example was very bad.

He could intend to say "That made me angry, but my anger was useless in helping the situation"... in which case he's using "to no avail" properly.

"To no end" seems more appropriate. I have no idea how the one person above thinks "no end" should be used instead of "to no end".
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Hi Anon

Scroll down to the expression "no end" here:

I think the point was that "no end" would sound natural in the sentence (i.e. the point was not that it means the same thing as "to no avail").

"That ticked me off no end" would mean "That made me very angry."
I think even better it would be worded as 'to no purposeful end'.

No-one would actually say "That ticked me off to no purposeful end". It sounds ludicrous.Emotion: big smile

Best wishes, Clive
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The original question in the thread was asked three years ago! I suspect that further discussion will be to no avail.
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