\ˈyüs \

Definition of use 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the act or practice of employing something : employment, application he made good use of his spare time

b : the fact or state of being used a dish in daily use

c : a method or manner of employing or applying something gained practice in the use of the camera

2a(1) : habitual or customary usage

(2) : an individual habit or group custom

b : a liturgical form or observance especially : a liturgy having modifications peculiar to a local church or religious order

3a : the privilege or benefit of using something gave him the use of her car

b : the ability or power to use something (such as a limb or faculty)

c : the legal enjoyment of property that consists in its employment, occupation, exercise, or practice

4a : a particular service or end put learning to practical use

b : the quality of being suitable for employment saving things that might be of use

c : good sense 2b it's no use arguing

d : the occasion or need to employ took only what they had use for

5a : the benefit in law of one or more persons specifically : the benefit or profit of property established in one other than the legal possessor

b : a legal arrangement by which such benefits and profits are so established

6 : a favorable attitude : liking had no use for modern art


\ˈyüz \
used\ˈyüzd, in the phrase "used to" usually ˈyüs(t) \; using\ˈyü-​ziŋ \

Definition of use (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 archaic : accustom, habituate

2 : to put into action or service : avail oneself of : employ

3 : to consume or take (liquor, drugs, etc.) regularly

4 : to carry out a purpose or action by means of : utilize also : manipulate sense 2b used him selfishly

5 : to expend or consume by putting to use often used with up

6 : to behave toward : act with regard to : treat used the prisoners cruelly

7 : stand sense 1d the house could use a coat of paint

intransitive verb

1 used in the past with to to indicate a former fact or state we used to go more oftendidn't use to smoke

2 : to take illicit drugs regularly

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Choose the Right Synonym for use


use, employ, utilize mean to put into service especially to attain an end. use implies availing oneself of something as a means or instrument to an end. willing to use any means to achieve her ends employ suggests the use of a person or thing that is available but idle, inactive, or disengaged. looking for better ways to employ their skills utilize may suggest the discovery of a new, profitable, or practical use for something. an old wooden bucket utilized as a planter

Examples of use in a Sentence


Two players were suspended for illegal drug use. Doctors have found a new use for the drug. According to the dictionary, the word has two uses.


I need to use the phone when you're done. The machine is easy to use. After the accident, she could no longer use her legs. We use only organic fertilizers on our farm. They make paper using traditional Japanese methods. He used his time there well. Which accountant do you use? a new kind of light bulb that uses very little electricity Did you use all the eggs? Who used the last match?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There were at least three incidents in Europe in 2012 involving infections connected to the use of an Olympus Medical Systems duodenoscope, according to the Justice Department. Samuel Rubenfeld, WSJ, "Olympus Unit Settles Criminal Probe Over Device Linked to ‘Superbug’ Infections," 10 Dec. 2018 Donations to Serving Hands International are put to immediate use in aiding Instituto Madre Asunta and other shelters along the border. Robin Roemer, Harper's BAZAAR, "Inside a Mexico Children's Shelter Helping Asylum Seekers," 3 Dec. 2018 Brad has put that same sense of humor to good use hosting the Country Music Association Awards for the past 11 years, and his wife usually accompanies him on the red carpet. Maria Carter, Country Living, "Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley's Real-Life Love Story Will Make You Swoon," 19 Nov. 2018 No doubt the actress will put her positivity (and magnificent eye roll) to good use as a parent. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Jessica Chastain and Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo Are Reportedly Already Parents," 19 Nov. 2018 Put their wild imagination to good use with this Web Slinger. Stacia Affelt, Good Housekeeping, "The Best Holiday Gifts for Whatever Your Child Is Currently Obsessing Over," 16 Nov. 2018 Soon thereafter, German cockroaches were discovered that were fully resistant to DDT, which for a time was promoted by the federal government for use on farms and in households. Rob Dunn, Discover Magazine, "Our Attempts to Eradicate Insects are Just Making them Resistant to Pesticides," 16 Nov. 2018 Engineers later fixed the software bug, and the team has restricted use of A-side memory to the amount that's still available, Lee said. Mike Wall,, "Rover Team Confident Curiosity Will Bounce Back from Glitch," 22 Sep. 2018 The use of novel chemicals as weapons favors the evolution of ever more behaviorally and chemically defended pathogens and pests. Rob Dunn, Discover Magazine, "Our Attempts to Eradicate Insects are Just Making them Resistant to Pesticides," 16 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Scientists use nets to capture diseased tadpoles and then fly them by helicopter from their natural range deep within the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Scott Smith, The Seattle Times, "Inoculations give endangered California frog a shot at life," 30 Aug. 2017 Hahn’s doesn’t use preservatives, so its baked goods should be consumed quickly. Jay Jones,, "Turn back the clock and spend quality time in Iowa's Amana Colonies," 30 Aug. 2017 Now, after dropping off a passenger, drivers can use a new function called Rematch to be matched with passengers who have requested a ride. Lisa Beebe, Los Angeles Magazine, "LAX Just Made It Easier to Catch a Lyft/Uber from the Airport," 30 Aug. 2017 Its airfield was used to launch B-29 attacks on the Philippines and mainland Japan including the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nancy Daly,, "Eclipse road trip an adventure for Mason couple," 30 Aug. 2017 Rowe said the plant initially used generators to power the refrigeration system, but when those failed after the flood, the chemicals were moved to diesel-powered refrigerators. Adam K. Raymond, Daily Intelligencer, "CEO of Flooded Texas Chemical Plant: There’s ‘No Way to Prevent’ Explosion," 30 Aug. 2017 HSAs are linked to high-deductible insurance plans, and consumers use the money in the account to pay their out-of-pocket expenses. Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News, "5 Outside-The-Box Ideas For Fixing The Individual Insurance Market," 30 Aug. 2017 A non-profit or government entity using the building Monday through Friday would pay $400 daily for up to eight hours; the daily rental for Friday through Sunday would be $600 each day. Allan Vought, The Aegis, "Bel Air planning Armory rental rate increases," 28 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'use.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for use


Middle English us, from Anglo-French, from Latin usus, from uti to use

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Statistics for use

Last Updated

16 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for use

The first known use of use was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for use



English Language Learners Definition of use

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the act of using something

: the state of being used

: a way in which something is or can be used



English Language Learners Definition of use (Entry 2 of 2)

: to do something with (an object, machine, person, method, etc.) in order to accomplish a task, do an activity, etc.

: to take (something) from a supply in order to function or to do a task

: to eat, drink, etc., (something) regularly


\ˈyüz \
used\ˈyüzd, in the phrase "used to" usually ˈyüst \; using\ˈyü-​ziŋ \

Kids Definition of use

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to put into action or service : make use of use tools use good English

2 used with to to show a former custom, fact, or state Grandma said winters used to be harder.

3 : to take into the body people who use drugs I don't use sugar in tea.

4 : to do something by means of Be sure to use care.

5 : to behave toward : treat He used the children kindly.

use up

: to make complete use of : exhaust We used up the supply of firewood within a week.

Other Words from use

user noun


\ˈyüs \

Kids Definition of use (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of putting something into action or service put knowledge to use

2 : the fact or state of being put into action or service a book in daily use

3 : way of putting into action or service the proper use of tools

4 : the ability or power to put something into action or service It's a blessing to have the use of one's legs.

5 : the quality or state of being useful

6 : a reason or need to put into action or service I've no use for it.

7 : liking We have no use for mean people.


\ˈyüs \

Legal Definition of use 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an arrangement in which property is granted to another with the trust and confidence that the grantor or another is entitled to the beneficial enjoyment of it — see also trust

Note: Uses originated in early English law and were the origin of the modern trust. Uses became popular in medieval England, where they were often secretly employed as a method of evading laws (as those prohibiting mortmain) and penalties (as attainder) and to defeat creditors. In response, the Statute of Uses was enacted in 1535. The purpose of the Statute was to execute the use, investing the legal ownership of the property in the cestui que use, or one entitled to the beneficial enjoyment, and abolishing the ownership of the grantee. The Statute did not have blanket application, however. Certain uses, particularly those in which the grantee was not merely a passive holder of the property, were not executed under the Statute. These uses were called trusts, and they were the basis of the modern trust.

b : the right to the utilization and benefit of property to which legal title is held by another the secret conveyance of uses in early English law broadly : the fact or right of having the benefits and profits of property

beneficial use

: the use of a cestui que use analogous to a beneficial interest in a trust : use sense 1b

resulting use

: a use that equity attributes back to a grantor when there is no person declared to receive it or no transfer of consideration

shifting use

: a use that is transferred or takes effect in derogation of some estate upon the happening of a future event

springing use

: a use that arises upon the happening of a future event and is not in derogation of any other estate

2 : the utilization of property, resources, or services

beneficial use

1 : use of property that allows an owner to derive a benefit or profit in the exercise of a basic property right the owner was entitled to just compensation when he was forced to sacrifice all beneficial use of the property — see also unnecessary hardship — compare taking

2 : use of water for a reasonable or beneficial purpose consistent with the public interest authorize the diversion of water for beneficial use

conditional use

: use of property in a zone for a particular purpose that is allowed under conditions set forth in a zoning ordinance : special exception

fair use

: a use of copyrighted material that does not constitute an infringement of the copyright provided the use is fair and reasonable and does not substantially impair the value of the work or the profits expected from it by its owner also : the privilege of making a fair use of copyrighted work

Note: Among the factors determining if a use of a copyrighted work is a fair use are these: the purpose of the use, the character of the use (as in being commercial or educational in nature), the nature of the copyrighted work, and the amount of the work used.

nonconforming use

: use of property in a manner that does not conform to the restrictions of a zoning law (as an ordinance) specifically : use in lawful existence when a restriction takes effect and so allowed to continue

public use

1 : use by or to the benefit of the public broadly : use that serves a legitimate or conceivable public purpose nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation U.S. Constitution amend. V — see also eminent domain — compare taking

Note: If a taking of property is not for public use then the consent of the owner is required.

2 : use of an invention by one who is under no limitation, restriction, or obligation of secrecy to the inventor

Note: Under federal law one is not entitled to a patent for an invention that was in public use more than a year prior to the date of application for the patent.

reasonable use

1 : a use of one's property or of water that is for a suitable and beneficial purpose and that does not lead to unreasonable interference with another's use of property or with the natural flow of water

2a : a rule whereby one may alter the natural flow of a watercourse as part of the reasonable use of property even though some harm results to another landowner

b : a rule whereby a use of the water under the surface of one's land that causes harm to an adjacent landowner is reasonable if made for a suitable purpose in connection with the overlying land

Note: This rule originated when cities began to use land in the country for wells that caused injury to adjacent farmers; the water was not for use there and so unreasonableness ultimately depended not on waste or harm but on the final destination of the water.

c : a rule that recognizes a landowner as entitled to make a reasonable use of property if it does not cause unreasonable harm to another and that may be applied to the alteration of a watercourse, the drainage of surface water, and the use of water beneath the surface

3 : utilization of a motor vehicle in a manner that is not completely foreign to its purpose insurance for accidents arising from the ownership, maintenance, or use of the car

\ˈyüz \
used; using

Legal Definition of use (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put into service : have enjoyment of

Other Words from use

user noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on use

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with use

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for use

Spanish Central: Translation of use

Nglish: Translation of use for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of use for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about use

Comments on use

What made you want to look up use? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a knickknack or trinket

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