Definition of utility in English:



  • 1mass noun The state of being useful, profitable, or beneficial.

    ‘he had a poor opinion of the utility of book learning’
    • ‘A number of clinicians have demonstrated the utility of this approach.’
    • ‘A tool is subordinated to its user, and its value lies in its practical utility.’
    • ‘The world doesn't owe anybody a living, and trade unions will either survive or they will decline according to their utility to the society and the market.’
    • ‘Clearly, more studies assessing the relative utility of specific airway interventions and their impact on morbidity and mortality are needed.’
    • ‘This is a small thing, but as the utility of the whole product could have been improved immeasurably at absolutely no cost, it's nevertheless an annoying thing’
    • ‘I'm sure there's some utility in emergency services practicing working together, but this seems far too choreographed to root out real bugs in the response system.’
    • ‘I also think the development of formulas and schematics to demonstrate the utility of their approach was well done.’
    • ‘First, Foundation Hospitals were watered down to the point of having almost no practical utility; any importance attached to the vote was, as I pointed out below, entirely symbolic.’
    • ‘Here are a few lists I whipped up quickly to illustrate the utility of the new service.’
    • ‘This last appendix is useful, however its utility could have been improved by including a World Wide Web address for each of these companies.’
    • ‘We recommend that projects consider the value and utility of these products and implement them where appropriate.’
    • ‘On the other hand, numerous illustrations are new and of excellent quality, adding great value and utility to the final product.’
    • ‘This decade ushered in the rise of multiple-use worship rooms, the new credo of congregations seeking maximum utility from their buildings.’
    • ‘These questions tend to result in an assessment of the utility of particular types of campaigns in challenging capitalism.’
    • ‘She has certainly convinced the reviewers of the value of exercise for all persons and particularly of its efficacy and utility for clinical populations.’
    • ‘Although such increases in validity appear to be small, the practical utility may be large when one takes into account the costs associated with unsuccessful job performance.’
    • ‘Medical alternatives such as sedatives or nicotine replacement therapy are also of questionable utility for at-risk populations.’
    • ‘There are two articles currently doing the rounds that both talk about the value and utility of being part of the networked world, and what it means to participate within it.’
    • ‘The mobilisation of the Dartmouth Cadets came with a shock of rather horrified surprise to a certain section of the public, who could not imagine that boys so young could be of any practical utility in the grim business of War.’
    • ‘But that's a small price to pay for ease and utility.’
    usefulness, use, advantage, benefit, value, help, helpfulness, profitability, convenience, practicality, effectiveness, efficacy, avail, service, serviceableness, advantageousness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (in game theory or economics) a measure of that which is sought to be maximized in any situation involving a choice.
      • ‘Empowered, Economic Man is free to choose in a variety of realms and free to act in such a way that his utility is maximized.’
      • ‘We assume that the object of the rational individual person is to maximize utility given the choices and constraints facing the person.’
      • ‘Morality and economic utility generally go hand in hand.’
      • ‘They deemed it sufficient that a man be left to his own devices to maximise his economic utility.’
      • ‘As any economist will tell you, a market is based on rational individuals maximizing their utility through economic exchange.’
  • 2An organization supplying the community with electricity, gas, water, or sewerage.

    • ‘The Commission is proposing that a private company operate the utility, provide its own funding for projects and employ its own workforce.’
    • ‘Unions said more than 20000 members downed tools yesterday in a wage dispute with the electricity utility.’
    • ‘Legislation would have to be passed to privatise the utility.’
    • ‘The final vote at the National Assembly on the privatisation bill to transform utilities into limited liability companies will be held on June 22.’
    • ‘The company also expects to sell gas to a power utility to generate electricity.’
    • ‘The long-anticipated entry of power utilities into the broadband telecommunications business began last week.’
    • ‘Your local water utility is required to send you an annual report on water quality.’
    • ‘The electricity sector is heavily regulated, and the service is mostly provided by monopoly public sector utilities that fail to meet the demand, causing frequent blackouts.’
    • ‘In any case, privatized utilities need strong public regulation, which is difficult and expensive to do well.’
    • ‘Traditional integrated utilities and public power agencies deliver electricity to customers based on real costs plus modest profits.’
    • ‘The national utility said key financial ratios remained satisfactory.’
    • ‘The trend to contract out the management of the utilities to outside companies commanded attention.’
    • ‘When did the management of the utility realise they needed a complete overhaul of the winning and distribution systems?’
    • ‘Most water utilities are public agencies.’
    • ‘The utility is expected to unveil profits on continuing activities in the region of 40%.’
    • ‘We will privatize utilities and end inefficient regulations and monopolies.’
    • ‘The utility isn't trying to profit from the service - just recover its costs.’
    • ‘This figure does not include employees working for the council utilities, agencies and corporations.’
    • ‘In 1996 the California Legislature deregulated the state's electric utilities.’
    • ‘The government's push to lure private companies to buy its utilities has led to water shut-offs and the worst cholera epidemic in the nation's history.’
    1. 2.1utilitiesUS Stocks and bonds in public utilities.
  • 3Computing
    A utility program.

    ‘a handy utility for converting one graphics file type to another’
    • ‘He carries around an enormous library of software utilities, diagnostic tools and reference documents on a single CD.’
    • ‘The user may agree to install a small utility that includes spyware as part of the download.’
    • ‘An increasingly wide array of plug-ins and utilities have developed around PDF files, a sure sign of maturity and market penetration.’
    • ‘Customers have access to many freeware programs, including utilities, productivity tools and development tools.’
    • ‘The trial of a Norwegian teen accused of developing a utility that enables people to illegally copy DVD movies opened in Oslo yesterday.’
  • 4NZ Australian A utility vehicle.

    • ‘Thieves also stole a toolbox from the back of a utility the same night.’
    • ‘She was tied, gagged and bundled into the back of the utility.’
    • ‘A distant cloud of dust signals the approach of a decrepit utility.’
    • ‘The driver of the utility was in shock, with minor injuries, he said.’
    • ‘The 44-year-old nursing student was hit by a utility while cycling along Newitt Street on Thursday morning.’


  • 1attributive Useful, especially through being able to perform several functions.

    ‘a utility truck’
    • ‘So he decided to build his own off-road utility vehicle in his backyard workshop.’
    • ‘A concrete outhouse immediately outside the kitchen is fully plumbed and vented for a washing machine and tumble dryer and functions as a utility area.’
    • ‘Kneel on the plywood to compress the foam as you cut it with a sharp utility knife.’
    • ‘Modern farmers and ranchers have discovered the efficiency of using ATVs as utility vehicles for driving around their property.’
    • ‘In the small utility room the original stone wall has been left uncovered.’
    • ‘There is also a small utility room and separate storage room in this area.’
    • ‘Examples include leaders in the automobile industry who first marketed off-road utility vehicles as everyday vehicles.’
    • ‘We picked up a neat set of utility shelving, manufactured from recycled plastic, to go in the garage.’
    • ‘Wiley held out the cup to him along with the utility tool with it's useful little fork on the end.’
    • ‘A utility candle with waterproofed matches is not very useful as a light source for traveling in a cave, but it can provide a source of emergency heat and comfort lighting.’
    • ‘Though normally functioning as a utility tool, the knife can be an effective close-quarters backup weapon if you know what you're doing with it.’
    • ‘Next to the bathroom was a large utility closet with a full-sized Whirlpool washer and dryer, a personal furnace/air conditioner, and a water heater.’
    • ‘A small utility room and a guest bathroom complete the ground floor accommodation.’
    practical, functional, serviceable, useful, sensible, effective, efficient, to the purpose, suited to the purpose, pragmatic, realistic, utility, working, workaday, handy, neat, ordinary, down-to-earth
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Denoting a player capable of playing in several different positions in a sport.
      ‘a utility player’
      • ‘Unfairly labeled a utility player with the White Sox and Royals, the Amityville, New York native is more than capable of playing the pivot on an everyday basis.’
      • ‘I am a utility player so that means I am expected to play anywhere and that is what I will do for the Bulls.’
      • ‘But this spring, Morris must show he's a useful utility infielder.’
      • ‘We have got a lot of utility players who can play in a few positions and we can change systems when it becomes necessary.’
      • ‘The team also needs to identify which players will serve as utility infielders.’
      • ‘I was a utility player - played every position but first and pitcher.’
      • ‘He is a utility player who has quickly impressed Reds bosses with his cheery personality and trademark smile.’
      • ‘One of four Dodgers to hit three home runs in a single game in 1950, Brown was nothing more than a utility player throughout his nine-year career.’
      • ‘It's hard to call him a utility player because he starts regularly, just not at any one position.’
      • ‘He lost his starting job the next year, but he quickly established himself as a valuable utility player.’
      • ‘They may not end up in the Hall of Fame, but utility players often enjoy long careers because of their versatility.’
      • ‘His career extended nine seasons as a utility player.’
      • ‘He'll turn 36 next month, and because he doesn't command big dollars, he may be able to fill a utility role in the majors for a couple of more years.’
      • ‘He's the kind of utility player every team needs.’
      • ‘The utility player returned from a torn shoulder capsule to feature at scrum half during last week's win against Hull.’
      • ‘He spent nine years in the majors as a utility player.’
      • ‘The utility player spent last season at Wetherby Road.’
      • ‘Greg Norton reported to camp trying to win a job as a utility infielder.’
      • ‘And if a player doesn't have great talent, learning several positions can make him more valuable as a role or utility player.’
      • ‘The York born-and-bred utility ace turned 23 on Thursday.’
  • 2attributive Functional rather than attractive.

    ‘utility clothing’
    • ‘Its comfort and practicality made it the ideal utility garment.’
    • ‘Dirt covered my already brown pants, and it was smeared all up my bare chest, and the utility vest was just plain filthy.’
    • ‘Somehow, you don't sound like the sort of person who can stick to utility alone - you'll just end up seeking out obscure brands of utility clothing!’
    • ‘I am looking at their jobs as civilians and in the military and focusing on how they coped with rationing and utility clothing.’
    • ‘Dungarees first started their life as useful utility pants for carpenters.’


Late Middle English: from Old French utilite, from Latin utilitas, from utilis ‘useful’.