- utilize (American, Canadian, Oxford British spelling)
- To make useful, to find a practical use for.
- To make use of; to use.
- To make best use of; to use to its fullest extent, potential, or ability.
- To make do with; to use in manner different from that originally intended
Many style guides have advised against utilize and utilise, arguing that the simpler verb use is always preferable (and analogously, that the noun use is preferable to utilization and utilisation). When used simply as a synonym in ordinary writing (as in “please utilise the rear door when exiting the aircraft”) it can strike readers as pretentious, and so should be used sparingly. American novelist David Foster Wallace calls it a puff word.
Others argue that utilise has other senses, and is acceptable or even necessary (instead of use) in such senses. One such sense is “make best use of” (profitable, practical use, not just general use), as in “if we fail to utilise all resources, we will fail” – here the nuance is not simply “use”, but “make best use of”. Further, in American usage, utilize can imply use outside an object’s intended purpose.
- ^ “utilise”, in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–.
- ^ T.A.R. Cheney, Getting the Words Right, Writer's Digest Books (1983).
- ^ Sir Ernest Gowers 1965 The Complete Plain Words Oxford: Oxford University Press
- ^ Eric Partridge 1973 Usage and Abusage: A Guide to Good English England: Penguin Books
- ^ John E. Kahn (ed) 1985 The Right Word at the Right Time London:Readers Digest
- ^ Pam Peters 1995 The Cambridge Australian English Style Guide Cambridge:Cambridge University Press
- ^ New Oxford American Dictionary 3rd edition (c) 2010 by Oxford University Press, Inc.
- ^ He continues: "Since it does nothing that good old use doesn't do, its extra letters and syllables don't make a writer seem smarter. I tell my students that using utilize makes you seem either pompous or so insecure that you'll use pointlessly big words in an attempt to look smart."
- ^ “use”, in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–.
- ^ “utilise” in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.