util·​i·​tar·​i·​an | \(ˌ)yü-ˌti-lə-ˈter-ē-ən \

Definition of utilitarian 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: an advocate or adherent of utilitarianism



Definition of utilitarian (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of or relating to or advocating utilitarianism

2 : marked by utilitarian views or practices

3a : of, relating to, or aiming at utility

b : exhibiting or preferring mere utility spare utilitarian furnishings

Examples of utilitarian in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Consequentialists—including utilitarians, the most famous kind—are concerned with the outcomes and consequences of actions first and foremost. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Enough With the Trolley Problem," 30 Mar. 2018 Besides, as long as these readers really are utilitarians and not Kantians, there’s nothing to stop them from quietly resubscribing in a month or two. Will Oremus, Slate Magazine, "New York Times," 1 May 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Restaurants in Gallup are limited, but the local favorite, Genaro’s, is worth a stop: The ambiance is utilitarian, the fiery New Mexican food is anything but. Guy Trebay, Condé Nast Traveler, "In the Heart of Navajo Lands," 19 Oct. 2018 The partiers already have the glittery clothes and jewels, while the hikers and campers aren’t without their own stylish, utilitarian gear. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "89 Stylish Holiday Gifts to Buy for Every Kind of Power Woman," 9 Nov. 2018 Her blazer was equal party preppy tailoring as well as utilitarian chic, with two front cargo pockets and a double-breasted closure. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Gigi Hadid Wore Denim Bike Shorts in NYC," 11 Oct. 2018 From Mars rovers to undersea explorers, robotic arms are generally focused on the utilitarian ask of grabbing. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "This Soft Robotic Arm Is Built To Study the Ocean's Most Delicate Creatures," 3 Oct. 2018 At dinner time, the flight attendants put on frilly Hello Kitty aprons and served us our meal: a utilitarian pasta dish coupled with a cranberry mold in the shape of Hello Kitty’s face. Laura Studarus, Marie Claire, "What a 14-Hour Flight on a Hello Kitty–Themed Airline Is Like," 19 July 2018 The interior features a utilitarian, but design with seating for four and a large infotainment system display on top of the dashboard. Gary Gastelu, Fox News, "Suzuki Samurai successor revealed, but don't get too excited," 18 June 2018 The remaining low ceiling spaces became utilitarian -- mechanical room, mud room, pantry and powder bathroom. Janet Eastman, OregonLive.com, "Step inside Portland's famous modern homes (photos)," 14 May 2018 The utilitarian Kirk Avenue building calls little attention to itself. Jacques Kelly, baltimoresun.com, "Jacques Kelly: Kirk Avenue's Compound, an artists' commune in need of some work," 28 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'utilitarian.' 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 utilitarian


circa 1780, in the meaning defined above


1802, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of utilitarian was circa 1780

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More Definitions for utilitarian



English Language Learners Definition of utilitarian

: made to be useful rather than to be decorative or comfortable

philosophy : of or relating to utilitarianism

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with utilitarian

Spanish Central: Translation of utilitarian

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Britannica English: Translation of utilitarian for Arabic Speakers

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the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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