In frequent use since 1650, the word useless, from the Latin usus, “to use,” and the Old English laes, “less,” was first used by William Shakespeare in “The Rape of Lucrece”:
The aged man that coffers up his gold
Is plagued with cramps, and gouts, and painful fits,
And scarce hath eyes his treasure to behold,
But like still-pining Tantalus he sits,
And useless barns the harvest of his wits;
Having no other pleasure of his gain
But torment that it cannot cure his pain.
Notice how Shakespeare used barn as a verb, thereby turning useless into an adverb. He also makes reference to Tantalus, a character in ancient Greek mythology who revealed some of the secrets of Zeus and
was condemned to a rather unusual punishment. He was plunged into water up to his chin, while overhead dangled succulent fruits from the branches of a tree. But whenever he bent over to drink or reached up to eat some fruit, the water receded and the fruit was withdrawn. That’s why Tantalus has given us the word tantalize: to tease or torment someone by keeping just out of reach something which they ardently desire.
Source : 500 Years of New Words by Bill Sherk