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

But there is little sense in the exhibition of the values and virtues that give a city its higher meaning, beyond the utilitarian functions of roads, water and sewage. Michael J. Lewis, WSJ, "‘The Road Ahead: Reimagining Mobility’ Review: Future Imperfect," 10 Jan. 2019 Designers created iterations of the utilitarian sandals with platforms (like Anna Sui above) and iridescent straps. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "7 Shoe Trends of 2019 You're Going to Want to Pay Attention To," 7 Jan. 2019 Invented by British philosopher Phillippa Foot in 1967, the Trolley Problem uses hypothetical scenarios within extreme environments to test utilitarian and Aristotlean ethics. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Out of Two Million People, Most Prefer That a Self-Driving Car Kill the Elderly," 25 Oct. 2018 The gig emporium has traditionally facilitated extremely utilitarian, identifiable demands — like, say, graphic design or audio transcription. Luke.winkie, Vox, "Inside Venezuela’s YouTube prank economy," 12 Dec. 2018 If SpaceX and Blue Origin have goals of expanding the human race into a space-faring species, companies like Rocket Lab have much more utilitarian aims: lowering the price of LEO entry. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Rocket Lab Debuts Low-Cost Rocket in First Commercial Launch," 12 Nov. 2018 Is there anything at once so utilitarian and elegant as the simple tote, that bag the French so lovingly refer to as le sac? GQ's Best Stuff has five investment totes to haul your daily carry. Max Berlinger, GQ, "The Best Totes Hold All Your Stuff and Look Smart Over Your Shoulder," 26 Jan. 2018 Use them around the house as beautiful and artful objects for a table display or even consider something more utilitarian, like using a silver toast rack to hold your mail. Georgina Schaeffer, Town & Country, "How To Polish Your Silver," 9 Dec. 2013 For Rocha that meant amping up the femininity on Moncler’s signature utilitarian designs by incorporating floral prints, ruffles, and all manner of embellishments. Vogue, "Isn’t It Genius? Moncler Will Smarten Up Your Fall Wardrobe," 4 Oct. 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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