Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To put to use, especially to find a profitable or practical use for. See Synonyms at use.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. Alternative spelling of utilise.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To make useful; to turn to profitable account or use; to make use of.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To turn to profitable account or use; make useful; make use of: as, to utilize a stream for driving machinery. Also spelled utilise.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. put into service; make work or employ for a particular purpose or for its inherent or natural purpose
  • v. convert (from an investment trust to a unit trust)

Etymologies

French utiliser, from Italian utilizzare, from utile, useful, from Latin ūtilis, from ūtī, to use.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

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Comments

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  • I despize utilize.

    February 3, 2010

  • But when should they utilise utilise?

    February 3, 2010

  • Is actually a fine word, but it tends to vex when my students use it to sound more grandiose

    February 3, 2010

  • Why do you ask, jennarennpicklemistressofthesaltplains?

    October 10, 2008

  • Who says that nicknames have to be short? I'd argue that it can be long with a nice flow.

    November 2, 2007

  • Even if that were to happen, I still wouldn't use it.

    November 1, 2007

  • I'm still hoping/wishing this word could mean "to infuse with utility; to increase the utility of something"

    That would, in fact, utilize "utilize."

    November 1, 2007

  • Well said. That is a good rule of thumb.

    November 1, 2007

  • Also, and this is a bit of a more subtle thing, I find myself disagreeing that active voice is truly preferable to passive voice. It's a decent guideline to get at the problem, but the underlying thing that often correlates with active voice making for better sentences is not, in fact, a matter of the verbs-- it's a matter of the nouns.

    Instead of "use active voice rather than passive", I would suggest "always make the most important noun in the sentence be the subject." This puts the emphasis of the sentence where it belongs. Of course, this often does correlate to using active voice, but not always.

    For instance, I would argue that "the document was signed this afternoon" is better than "the managers signed the document this afternoon" in cases where no one really cares *who* signed it nearly as much as they care that the document has finally been signed. On the other hand, if we were wondering whether it was signed by the managers themselves or by some proxy, the latter would probably be a better sentence. The subject is the focus of the sentence, and as such it should involve the noun that the sentence is meant to tell us about.

    November 1, 2007

  • Haha, aren't nicknames supposed to be short? Few words are as awkward to type as "uselessness," but well, you found one. I can fully understand people shortening it to just u. ;-)

    November 1, 2007

  • I agree with utilizelessness (who I think has acquired a new nickname now) that varying your word choice really isn't about trying desperately for synonyms. It's about finding new ways to describe things, and rearranging your sentences if need be (especially since, of course, you're also supposed to vary sentence structure). "Vary your word choice" is one of those things that might be useful in fourth grade but shouldn't be clung to as the writer becomes more sophisticated, and it's also far less important of a rule than "be simple and clear".

    One thing that makes me wince is when beginning writers think they have to keep coming up with new synonyms for "said" in order to vary word choice, and aforementioned synonyms don't exactly fit with what is happening in the story. Small and common words like "said" are, in fact, invisible-- no one will notice if you repeat them, but they sure as heck will notice if you have to resort to "expounded" or somesuch. Some words are simply so common that people don't notice their being repeated; what one wants to avoid repeating is unusual words and especially descriptive ones. I.e. don't describe every blue thing in the story as "azure", and, for that matter, don't tack on "big" before every noun in your description (I once tutored a student who did that, and while "big" is fairly common, it was still noticeable that she had to keep telling us of the bigness of every object in the house. It started to feel like a fairy tale about giants after a while.)

    October 31, 2007

  • I'm not so sure that implement doesn't belong on cringeworthy corporate buzzwords, though.

    October 31, 2007

  • I've always been glad you didn't choose utilizelessness. :-)

    October 31, 2007

  • Ugh. Variation in writing is one thing; throwing around extraneous utilizes to accomplish that is another. The best way to avoid saying use over and over is to structure sentences differently, perhaps with different tenses. "Use" is so generic anyway, which makes for poor writing in the first place.

    It's similar to the "be" verb rule: Always avoid using being, is, was, are, am, and been. Active voice is always preferable. Finally, if you do have to find a synonym for "use," try implement, activate, apply, or some other more descriptive verb.

    Hmmm... perhaps I've found a second meaning for my username?

    October 31, 2007

  • I seem to remember being told to "vary" our language when writing. We were tought that you shouldn't overly use words like "use", and should use synonyms, like "utilize".

    October 31, 2007

  • If it does more than substitute for "use", why can't anyone point out exactly what it is doing? My boyfriend said the same thing, that he found it useful (utilizeful? =P) and yet was not able to pinpoint/explain what he thought the difference was. I'll believe and embrace the distinction when someone explains to me what it is.

    October 30, 2007

  • In my office, they'd probably consider that "normal" word use. *shudder*

    But it is funny. Think I'll give it a shot one day.

    October 18, 2007

  • Hemingway and his posh chums have fun over-using this word in Fiesta / The Sun Also Rises. E.g. (not an actual quote) What do you say we utilize the hotel bar, darling?

    In that sense I think it has comic potential. For example, if I were to go into the office next door to mine and ask if I could utilize the stapler, I think that would be funny. Most people, though, would probably think I was being a jerk.

    October 18, 2007

  • True. Although I always have to think for five minutes to remember how to pronounce it.

    October 17, 2007

  • You know what word is nice, though? inutile

    October 17, 2007

  • Nope. It's just too ugly. ;-)

    October 17, 2007

  • "Utilize" could be "to infuse with utility; to increase the utility of something

    October 17, 2007

  • I'm really surprised at how many people hate this word. I think it's so much more than a substitution for "use."

    January 19, 2007

  • I utilize my delete key every time I see this "word."

    December 24, 2006

  • All it simply does is make 'use' sound scientific. Jacques Barzun once wrote about the wretchedness of '-ize' words.

    December 9, 2006

  • December 1, 2006