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 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 They’re made of metal, extremely utilitarian, and perfectly suitable for my Brooklyn apartment. Amanda Shapiro, Bon Appétit, "These Bins Keep My Pantry Tidy No Matter How Many Beans I Buy," 20 Mar. 2020 The Mobile Greyhound bus station is unremarkable and has a distinctly utilitarian feel to it. Christopher Harress | Charress@al.com, al, "On the Greyhound bus to a new life, refugees are helped along by Mobile grandmothers," 4 Mar. 2020 What makes Larsen’s novel so striking is its cold, utilitarian atmosphere of let the joke on the lawgiver be. Darryl Pinckney, The New York Review of Books, "Escaping Blackness," 10 Mar. 2020 Hazel Available on: Mac Price: $32 Hazel may be my favorite utilitarian application. Patrick Lucas Austin, Time, "The Spring Cleaning Software You Need to Tidy Up Your Computer (And Keep it That Way)," 14 Feb. 2020 Posters had been used to advertise stage shows for decades, but most were utilitarian conveyors of date, time and place. Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, "Wes Wilson, Psychedelic Poster Pioneer, Dies at 82," 30 Jan. 2020 China is not only sitting on a goldmine of personalised data on their fingertips, but also has cultural acceptance of benefits of tech ahead of concerns for privacy and a techno-utilitarian policy from the government. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "What India’s startup bosses read in 2019 and how it helped them," 30 Dec. 2019 This Broadway hot spot combines the rowdy clamor of a ’50s burger joint with the utilitarian charm of a converted gas station, turning out a wide variety of burgers (try the Southwest) and a list of malts and shakes more than 25 long. Chuck Blount, ExpressNews.com, "Top 10 Best Burger Restaurants in the San Antonio area," 27 Dec. 2019 The focus in their correspondence on the articulation of personal taste in all things identifies writing poetry with a way of living, rather than advancement in a profession, which would associate poetry with the utilitarian and self-promotion. Langdon Hammer, The New York Review of Books, "Letters: Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘Art Form or Something’," 25 Feb. 2020

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 4 Apr. 2020.

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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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