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From Middle English utilite, from Old French utilite, utilitet (usefulness), from Latin ūtilitās, from uti (to use). By surface analysis, utile +‎ -ity.



utility (countable and uncountable, plural utilities)

  1. The state or condition of being useful; usefulness.
    • 1817 (date written), [Jane Austen], “III”, in Persuasion; published in Northanger Abbey: And Persuasion. [], volumes (please specify |volume=III or IV), London: John Murray, [], 20 December 1817 (indicated as 1818), →OCLC:
      "The profession has its utility, but I should be sorry to see any friend of mine belonging to it."
  2. Something that is useful.
    • 1945 November and December, H. C. Casserley, “Random Reflections on British Locomotive Types—1”, in Railway Magazine, page 320:
      Undoubtedly it can be said that the humble 0-6-0 has been the backbone for general service, or general utility on British railways right from their earliest days, and is likely to remain so.
  3. (economics) The ability of a commodity to satisfy needs or wants; the satisfaction experienced by the consumer of that commodity.
  4. (philosophy) Well-being, satisfaction, pleasure, or happiness.
  5. (business) A commodity or service provided on a continuous basis by a physical infrastructure network, such as electricity, water supply or sewerage.
    Synonym: service
  6. (business, finance, by extension) A natural or legal monopoly distributer of such a utility; or, the securities of such a provider.
  7. (computing) A software program designed to perform a single task or a small range of tasks, often to help manage and tune computer hardware, an operating system or application software.
    I've bought a new disk utility that can recover deleted files.
    • 1982, InfoWorld, volume 4, number 10, page 35:
      The system includes an 8080 and a Z80 assembler, a Tektronix format downloader and other utilities.
  8. (sports) The ability to play multiple positions.


Derived terms[edit]




  1. Having to do with, or owned by, a service provider.
    utility line; utility bill
  2. (Of a building or its components) containing or intended for any of a building’s often-utility-related commodity transport, such as pipes or wires, or converting equipment, such as furnaces, water tanks or heaters, circuit breakers, central air conditioning units, laundry facilities, etc.
    utility room; utility corridor
  3. Functional rather than attractive.
    • 1943 March and April, “G.W.R. Rolling Stock Colours”, in Railway Magazine, page 106:
      "Chocolate and cream," the standard colours of G.W.R. rolling stock for 21 years, are now being replaced by an all-over utility coating of reddish-brown. This is the third time that a uniform brown has been adopted as the standard livery of G.W.R. carriages.





utility m (plural utilitys)

  1. (sports) utility