Origin of use

1175–1225; (v.) Middle English usen < Old French user < Latin ūsus, past participle of ūtī to use; (noun) Middle English < Old French < Latin ūsus act of using a thing, application, employment, equivalent to ūt-, stem of ūtī to use + -tus suffix of v. action, with tt > s


1 Use, utilize mean to make something serve one's purpose. Use is the general word: to use a telephone; to use a saw and other tools; to use one's eyes; to use eggs in cooking. (What is used often has depreciated or been diminished, sometimes completely consumed: a used automobile; All the butter has been used. ) As applied to persons, use implies some selfish or sinister purpose: to use another to advance oneself. Utilize implies practical or profitable use: to utilize the means at hand, a modern system of lighting.
3 exhaust, waste.
7 familiarize, inure.
12 employment, utilization, application, exercise.
13 handling.

Related forms

Can be confused

use usage utilize (see usage note at usage) (see synonym study at the current entry)

Usage note

See usage. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for use up (1 of 2)

use up

verb (tr, adverb)

to finish (a supply); consume completely
to exhaust; wear out

British Dictionary definitions for use up (2 of 2)


verb (juːz) (tr)

noun (juːs)

See also used to, use up

Word Origin for use

C13: from Old French user to use, from Latin ūsus having used, from ūtī to use
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with use up (1 of 2)

use up


Consume completely, as in The kids used up all their money playing video games. [Late 1700s]


Exhaust, tire out, as in I'm totally used up from digging that hole. [Colloquial; mid-1800s]

Idioms and Phrases with use up (2 of 2)


In addition to the idioms beginning with use

  • used to
  • use one's head
  • use up

also see:

  • have no use for
  • make use of
  • no use
  • put to good use

Also see underused.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.