[ yoo-til-i-tee ]
See synonyms for: utilityutilities on Thesaurus.com

noun,plural u·til·i·ties.
  1. the state or quality of being useful; usefulness: This chemical has no utility as an agricultural fertilizer.

  2. something useful; a useful thing.

  1. a public service, as a system to provide water or electricity, a railroad line, a cell tower network, or the like.: Compare public utility (def. 1).

  2. Often utilities. a useful or advantageous factor or feature: the relative utilities of a religious or a secular education.

  3. Economics. the capacity of a commodity or a service to satisfy some human want.

  4. the principle and end of the ethical doctrine of utilitarianism; well-being or happiness; that which is conducive to the happiness and well-being of the greatest number.

  5. Computers.

    • Also called u·til·i·ty pro·gram . a piece of software used to perform standard operations involved in managing and maintaining the system itself, such as backing up data, copying data from one drive to another, restoring corrupted files, etc.: The suite includes a minimal set of utilities, including an encryption wizard for encrypting and decrypting personal files.

    • an app for a smartphone, such as a calculator, compass, etc., performing one simple function used in the course of carrying out some other activity: The measuring app and other utilities are all accessed in one place on your phone screen.

  6. utilities, stocks or bonds of public utilities.

  7. a grade of beef immediately below commercial.

  1. (of domestic animals) raised or kept as a potentially profitable product rather than for show or as pets: utility breeds;utility livestock.

  2. having or made for a number of useful or practical purposes rather than a single, specialized one: a utility knife.

  1. designed chiefly for use or service rather than beauty, high quality, or the like: a utility vehicle;utility furniture.

Origin of utility

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English utilite, from Old French utilite, utelite, from Latin ūtilitāt-, stem of ūtilitās, equivalent to ūtil(is) “useful” + -itās noun suffix; see utile, -ity

Other words from utility

  • non·u·til·i·ty, noun, plural non·u·til·i·ties.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use utility in a sentence

  • This, by the way, was in line with the new slogan put out by the boss and his boosters: "Own your own Utilities."

    The Wreckers | Francis Lynde
  • Second, that the people in each state own and control the utilities that come in contact with the people on a state-wide scale.

    Communism and Christianism | William Montgomery Brown
  • Even the utilities that are becoming the custom of our time, have their refining and exalting influences.

    The Hearth-Stone | Samuel Osgood
  • Besides, it may occur that some one in the future will discover in it utilities which at present are not seen.

    Treatise on Light | Christiaan Huygens
  • Its plainest utilities bloom into loveliness, and to a devout ear sing out in anthems.

    The Hearth-Stone | Samuel Osgood

British Dictionary definitions for utility


/ (juːˈtɪlɪtɪ) /

nounplural -ties
    • the quality of practical use; usefulness; serviceability

    • (as modifier): a utility fabric

  1. something useful

    • a public service, such as the bus system; public utility

    • (as modifier): utility vehicle

  1. economics

    • the ability of a commodity to satisfy human wants

    • the amount of such satisfaction: See disutility

  2. statistics

    • a measure of the total benefit or disadvantage attaching to each of a set of alternative courses of action

    • (as modifier): utility function See also expected utility, decision theory

  3. Also called: utility truck, (informal) ute Australian and NZ a small truck with an open body and low sides, often with a removable tarpaulin cover; pick-up

  4. a piece of computer software designed for a routine task, such as examining or copying files

Origin of utility

C14: from Old French utelite, from Latin ūtilitās usefulness, 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