: useful

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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 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."

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Why, then, is Cuomo so stuck on it, so willing to roll over all the opposition rather than get behind a significantly more utile plan? Christopher Bonanos, Curbed, 20 July 2021

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle French, from Latin utilis

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of utile was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near utile

Cite this Entry

“Utile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/utile. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

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