util·​i·​tar·​i·​an | \ (ˌ)yü-ˌti-lə-ˈter-ē-ən How to pronounce utilitarian (audio) \

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 Clearly, for a utilitarian like me, the benefits greatly outweigh the costs. New York Times, "People Are Dying. Who Do We Save First With the Vaccine?," 24 Dec. 2020 Then there are utilitarians — the greatest good, for the greatest number overall. Jim Beckerman, USA TODAY, "Are ethics for suckers? The US has a complicated relationship with right and wrong in 2019," 26 Oct. 2019 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 The company, which specialized in utilitarian pottery, went through several different owners and name changes, eventually closing in late 1990. oregonlive, "1942 Casablanca poster, Capture Hitler game: What are they worth?," 3 Mar. 2021 The brand—best known for its minimalist and utilitarian products and delicious, nuanced scents—offers a curated selection, including turmeric bar soaps and hydrating, ginseng serums. Tanisha Pina, Forbes, "27 Black-Owned Beauty Brands To Add To Your Top Shelf," 24 Feb. 2021 And yet this utilitarian piece of equipment has become a star. New York Times, "The (Surprising) Rise of the Sheet Pan," 23 Feb. 2021 The room is meant to be utilitarian, but the collection of copper pots on display infuses it with passion and personality. House Beautiful, "Richmond Designer Sara Hillery Is Inspired by Artists' Approaches to Color," 19 Feb. 2021 Such robot arms are engineered to perform repetitive labor, and are customarily deployed for utilitarian matters like painting car chassis. Sydney Skybetter, Wired, "How Choreography Can Help Robots Come Alive," 7 Feb. 2021 Warm colors are a cozy antidote to the hard surfaces and utilitarian aspects of a bathroom. Alicia Chilton, Better Homes & Gardens, "9 No-Fail Ways to Add Fall Decor to Your Bathroom," 31 Aug. 2020 My two favorite stacks are the utilitarian end-pillar and a decorative German type known as a holzhaus, or wood house, which makes a smaller footprint than the end-pillar stack with the same volume of material. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "How to Stack Firewood," 26 Jan. 2021 Unlike something utilitarian like a battery, fashion is harder to replicate with generic Amazon brands. Washington Post, "For Amazon’s $25 custom T-shirt, your body is a wonderland (of data)," 5 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for utilitarian

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The first known use of utilitarian was circa 1780

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Cite this Entry

“Utilitarian.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/utilitarian. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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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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