Noun. Intransitive verb, footled, footling.
- To talk or act foolishly.
- To waste time: trifle, fool.
- Lacking judgment or ability: Inept <footling amateurs who understand nothing – E.R. Bentley>
- Lacking use or value: Trivial <footling matters>
v.”to trifle,” 1892, from dialectal footer “to trifle,” footy “mean, paltry” (1752), perhaps from French se foutre “to care nothing,” from Old French foutre “to copulate with,” from Latin futuere, originally “to strike, thrust” (cf. confute). But OED derives the English dialect words from foughty (c.1600), from Dutch vochtig or Danish fugtig “damp, musty;” related to fog (n.).
“It was a unique machine. By the time of his last try, Marc had grasped the point of it: you had to make up a question in your head, then consult the oracle. He had hesitated between ‘Will I get my medieval accounts finished in time?’ which he found too footling, and ‘Is there a woman somewhere who will fall in love with me?’, but he didn’t want to know if the answer to that was no, so he had finally opted for a question which didn’t commit him to anything: ‘Does God exist?’. – Dog Will Have His Day, Fred Vargas.