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July 06, 2013

Word of the Day

  • utile
  • audio pronunciation
  • \YOO-tul\
  • DEFINITION

adjective

: useful
  • EXAMPLES

Shaker crafts are simple, meticulously constructed, pleasing to the eye, and eminently utile, all at the same time.

"One marvels that 12th-century engineers and builders were able to erect a structure that was both esthetically pleasing to the eye and functionally utile for the ages; after all, the original—medieval—London Bridge was in daily use for more than six-and-one-half-centuries." — From a feature by Kurt F. Stone in OpEdNews, June 3, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?

For over a hundred years before "useful" entered our language, "utile" served us well on its own. We borrowed "utile" from Middle French in the 15th century. The French derived it from Latin "utilis," meaning "useful," which in turn comes from "uti," meaning "to use." "Uti" (the past participle of which is "usus") is also the source of our "use" and "useful." We've been using "use" since at least the 13th century, but we apparently didn't acquire "useful" until the late 16th century, when William Shakespeare inserted it into King John. Needless to say, we've come to prefer "useful" over "utile" since then, though "utile" functions as a very usable synonym. Other handy terms derived from "uti" include "utilize," "usury," "abuse" and "utensil."

Test Your Memory: What is the meaning of "stichomythia," our Word of the Day from June 7? The answer is …

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