Crossword Genius

Where blood flows to one’s ears ineffectually (2,4)


I believe the answer is:

in vain

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'where' is the definition.
Both the answer and definition are adverbs. Perhaps they are linked in a way I don't understand?

I can't explain the rest of the clue.

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(Other definitions for in vain that I've seen before include "Uselessly, without result" , "Futile" , "Uselessly, without success" , "Uselessly, to no profit" , "Uselessly, without any progress" .)

I've seen this clue in The Guardian.
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