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See also: utilisé


Alternative forms[edit]

  • utilize (American, Canadian, Oxford British spelling)


From French utiliser, from Italian utilizzare, from utile (useful), from Latin ūtilis, from ūtī (use). Attested c. 1810.[1]


utilise (third-person singular simple present utilises, present participle utilising, simple past and past participle utilised) (British spelling)

  1. To make use of; to use.
    • 1959 March, “The 2,500 h.p. electric locomotives for the Kent Coast electrification”, in Trains Illustrated, page 125:
      The bodywork employs, where possible, the same constructional methods as for the standard B.R. coaching stock, in order to utilise existing jigs and press tools.
  2. To make useful; to find a practical use for.
  3. To make best use of; to use to its fullest extent, potential, or ability.
  4. To make do with; to use in manner different from that originally intended[2]

Usage notes[edit]

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).[3][4][5][6] 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.[7] American novelist David Foster Wallace calls it a puff word.[8] Op-ed editor of The Los Angeles Time Juliet Lapidos "There are many bad words in English, but only one worst word. That word is utilize" [9]. Another writer Stephen Heard asserts "there is never any good reason to use the word “utilize”" and provides extensive arguments against any utilisation especially in scientific writing [10].

It does not follow that because some speakers eschew a particular usage, it must be everywhere redundant. Utilise is suited to senses in which use would require circumlocution. Examples of such senses include “put to use”, as in “...utilise the production capacities of the local industries fully before ordering from foreign industries.” “exploit or consume”, as in “...utilise the support that the system provides, such as by making the most of tax exemptions and special supplies.” or “make best use of” (profitable, practical use, not just general use), as in “...farmers must utilise their land fully to boost food security”. Further, in American usage, utilize can imply use outside an object’s intended purpose, as in “...our airmen utilized damaged drop tanks in the field, cutting them open for bathtubs”.[11][12][13]


Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ utilise” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.
  2. ^ T.A.R. Cheney, Getting the Words Right, Writer's Digest Books (1983).
  3. ^ Sir Ernest Gowers 1965 The Complete Plain Words Oxford: Oxford University Press
  4. ^ Eric Partridge 1973 Usage and Abusage: A Guide to Good English England: Penguin Books
  5. ^ John E. Kahn (ed) 1985 The Right Word at the Right Time London:Readers Digest
  6. ^ Pam Peters 1995 The Cambridge Australian English Style Guide Cambridge:Cambridge University Press
  7. ^ New Oxford American Dictionary 3rd edition (c) 2010 by Oxford University Press, Inc.
  8. ^ 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."
  9. ^ Juliet Lapidos 2017 Utilize is the worst word in the English language [1]
  10. ^ Heard, S.B. 2019 https://scientistseessquirrel.wordpress.com/2019/04/16/for-the-love-of-all-that-is-holy-stop-writing-utilize
  11. ^ A story of tanks[2]
  12. ^ use” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.
  13. ^ “utilise”, in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 2000, →ISBN.




  1. first-person singular present indicative of utiliser
  2. third-person singular present indicative of utiliser
  3. first-person singular present subjunctive of utiliser
  4. third-person singular present subjunctive of utiliser
  5. second-person singular imperative of utiliser