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utility

[yoo-til-i-tee]
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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.
  3. a public service, as a telephone or electric-light system, a streetcar or railroad line, or the like.Compare public utility(def 1).
  4. Often utilities. a useful or advantageous factor or feature: the relative utilities of a religious or a secular education.
  5. Economics. the capacity of a commodity or a service to satisfy some human want.
  6. the principle and end of utilitarian ethics; well-being or happiness; that which is conducive to the happiness and well-being of the greatest number.
  7. Computers. utility program.
  8. utilities, stocks or bonds of public utilities.
  9. a grade of beef immediately below commercial.
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adjective
  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.
  3. designed chiefly for use or service rather than beauty, high quality, or the like: a utility vehicle; utility furniture.
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Origin of utility

1350–1400; Middle English utilite < Old French utelite < Latin ūtilitās, equivalent to ūtil(is) useful (see utile) + -itās -ity
Related formsnon·u·til·i·ty, noun, plural non·u·til·i·ties.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

servicepointexpediencyusefulnessapplicabilityuseadvantageprofitbenefitadequacyavailfavorrelevancefunctionefficacyproductivenessefficiencyaccountpracticalityconvenience

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British Dictionary definitions for utility

utility

noun plural -ties
    1. the quality of practical use; usefulness; serviceability
    2. (as modifier)a utility fabric
  1. something useful
    1. a public service, such as the bus system; public utility
    2. (as modifier)utility vehicle
  2. economics
    1. the ability of a commodity to satisfy human wants
    2. the amount of such satisfactionSee disutility
  3. statistics
    1. a measure of the total benefit or disadvantage attaching to each of a set of alternative courses of action
    2. (as modifier)utility function See also expected utility, decision theory
  4. 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
  5. a piece of computer software designed for a routine task, such as examining or copying files
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Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for utility

n.

late 14c., "fact of being useful," from Old French utilite "usefulness" (late 13c.), earlier utilitet (12c.), from Latin utilitatem (nominative utilitas) "usefulness, serviceableness, profit," from utilis "usable," from uti (see use (v.)). As a shortened form of public utility it is recorded from 1930.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper