pertaining to or consisting in utility.
having regard to utility or usefulness rather than beauty, ornamentation, etc.
of, relating to, or adhering to the doctrine of utilitarianism.


an adherent of utilitarianism.

Origin of utilitarian

First recorded in 1775–85; utilit(y) + -arian
Related formsan·ti·u·til·i·tar·i·an, adjective, nounnon·u·til·i·tar·i·an, adjective, nounun·u·til·i·tar·i·an, adjective

Synonyms for utilitarian

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

Examples from the Web for utilitarian

Contemporary Examples of utilitarian

Historical Examples of utilitarian

  • We call ours a utilitarian age, and we do not know the uses of any single thing.

    De Profundis

    Oscar Wilde

  • But Shelley's world was the world of the utilitarian Godwin and the mathematical Condorcet.

  • In the most commercial and utilitarian states of society the power of ideas remains.

  • The Utilitarian finds a place in his system for this virtue and for every other.'

  • Yet of this interval the utilitarian theory takes no cognizance.

British Dictionary definitions for utilitarian



of or relating to utilitarianism
designed for use rather than beauty


a person who believes in utilitarianism
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

Word Origin and History for utilitarian

1781, coined by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) from utility. One guided by the doctrine of the greatest happiness for the greatest number.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper