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

Unlike the family wagons of the past, or like the modern-day Outback for that matter, neither is a utilitarian box. Russ Mitchell, latimes.com, "New wagons from Volvo and Jaguar offer agile alternatives to the lumbering SUV," 25 May 2018 Over toward the old cinderblock horse barns, indestructible, low-slung utilitarian relics were standing on the far side of the racetrack. Tim Layden, SI.com, "Justify Emerges From the Fog at Preakness to Keep Triple Crown Pursuit Alive," 19 May 2018 Indeed, consider the point broadly enough and the garden marked the beginning of Western civilization overall, agriculture being the large, utilitarian version of today’s flower beds and vegetable patches. Stephanie Hanes, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Life in the Garden' lovingly recalls the place of gardens in an author's life," 14 June 2018 There are no blunt bobs and leather dusters like in last summer’s Atomic Blonde, nor any drab and utilitarian cargo pants or knits like those once worn by Jason Bourne. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Killing Eve Is the Most Fashionable Show on TV," 27 Apr. 2018 Photo by Chaos Z Via Dezeen Photo by Chaos Z Via Dezeen The veranda that wraps around the house is supported by steel structural columns that give the house a warm but utilitarian feel. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Traditional courtyard house gets a modern update," 5 July 2018 But most would probably be slim, simple, and utilitarian. Peter Wayner, The Atlantic, "The New York City Subway Is Beyond Repair," 9 June 2018 Modern street lighting, with its tall, utilitarian poles, just is not the same. Jacques Kelly, baltimoresun.com, "Remembering Baltimore's magical glow from gaslights on a summer night," 14 July 2018 With no basement, attic or spare room, unglamorous documents have no home and can end up stacked in plain sight in utilitarian boxes, unattractive reminders of the bureaucracy of life. New York Times, "Buried in Paperwork," 6 July 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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