useful life


Definition of useful life

: the amount of time during which something is in good enough condition to be used the useful life of a satellite

Learn More about useful life

Share useful life

Dictionary Entries near useful life

used to



useful life

useful load


use inheritance

Statistics for useful life

Last Updated

6 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for useful life

useful life

Financial Definition of useful life

What It Is

A useful life is the number of years in which an asset can reliably produce benefits.

How It Works

Let's assume you buy a car for $20,000. You believe the car could last for 15 years. After that, the car is probably "run into the ground," and its next stop is the junkyard. Thus, the useful life of the car is 15 years.

In the business world, useful lives are very important because they help companies calculate depreciation. Let's assume Company XYZ purchases a piece of machinery for $1 million, and that piece of machinery has a useful life of 10 years. After that, the machinery is estimated to be worth, say, $10,000. Thus, Company XYZ would record a depreciation expense equal to $990,000 over 10 years (there are a variety of ways to do that).

Why It Matters

Useful lives are important in business because they affect the size of a company's depreciation or amortization expense (and thus they affect net income). It is important to note, however, that useful lives (and scrap values) are merely estimates. After all, nobody knows what an asset will be worth 10 years in advance or whether it will actually last that long.

Source: Investing Answers

useful life

use·​ful life

Legal Definition of useful life

: an estimated amount of time during which an asset or facility will yield income or be useful — see also depreciation sense 1

Comments on useful life

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


to corrupt or become corrupted

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!