util·​i·​ty | \yü-ˈti-lə-tē \
plural utilities

Definition of utility 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : fitness for some purpose or worth to some end

2 : something useful or designed for use

3a : public utility

b(1) : a service (such as light, power, or water) provided by a public utility

(2) : equipment or a piece of equipment to provide such service or a comparable service

4 : a program or routine designed to perform or facilitate especially routine operations (such as copying files or editing text) on a computer



Definition of utility (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : capable of serving as a substitute in various roles or positions a utility infielder

2a : kept to provide a useful product or service rather than for show or as a pet utility livestock a utility dog

b : being of a usable but inferior grade utility beef

3 : serving primarily for utility rather than beauty : utilitarian

4 : designed or adapted for general use a utility tool

5 : of or relating to a utility a utility company

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for utility

Synonyms: Noun

account, avail, mileage, service, serviceability, serviceableness, use, usefulness

Antonyms: Noun

uselessness, worthlessness

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of utility in a Sentence


a plan without much practical utility Notify the utility if there's an outage.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Rivian’s pickup truck has a laser-focus on utility that puts it in a somewhat more specific niche than the startup’s SUV. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "Rivian’s R1S SUV looks like an all-electric Land Rover," 27 Nov. 2018 Personally, Snip & Sketch seems like Microsoft reinventing the wheel once again, doing away with the perfectly functional Snipping Tool to add another utility that does largely the same thing, albeit with inking capabilities. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Windows 10 preview build 18282 finally supports smarter Windows Updates, new light theme," 14 Nov. 2018 Seko said utilities were planning to start up several other thermal and hydroelectric plants to provide at least some power. Fox News, "At least 7 dead, dozens feared buried after quake hits northern Japan," 2 Oct. 2018 Voters in some places can use a Social Security card, a paycheck or bank statement, a utility bill, a credit card, or a birth certificate. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "Women's Equality Day: It Can Still Be Hard for Women to Vote. Here's What You Should Know About Your Rights," 27 Aug. 2018 More than 14 million people in the United States have trouble paying utility bills, Bell said. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The Human Utility’s Tiffani Ashley Bell on how small nonprofits are stepping up," 18 July 2018 Extending utility lines to that area would require the county to amend its water and sewer master plan and seek approval from the St. Johns River Water Management District. Martin E. Comas, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Seminole County report blasts plan to build hundreds of homes in rural area," 10 July 2018 The first is a 1-cent sales tax that would raise $5.6 million a year in restricted funds, exclusively for burying utility lines and reducing fire risks along key evacuation roads. Bradley Zint, latimes.com, "Laguna council pushes initiative to place utility lines underground to July 17 so mayor can vote," 10 July 2018 Once in 2015, it was mistakenly defaced by workers putting in utility lines. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "The Sculptures Outside The Wadsworth, Explained," 9 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'utility.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of utility


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1851, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for utility


Middle English utilite, from Anglo-French utilité, from Latin utilitat, utilitas, from utilis useful, from uti to use

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about utility

Statistics for utility

Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for utility

The first known use of utility was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for utility



English Language Learners Definition of utility

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the quality or state of being useful

: a service (such as a supply of electricity or water) that is provided to the public

: a company that provides electricity, water, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of utility (Entry 2 of 2)

: designed for general use

sports : able to be used in several different positions or roles

: made to be useful rather than decorative


util·​i·​ty | \yu̇-ˈti-lə-tē \
plural utilities

Kids Definition of utility

1 : the quality or state of being useful

2 : a business that supplies a public service (as electricity or gas) under special regulation by the government


plural utilities

Legal Definition of utility 

1 : fitness for some purpose or worth to some end

2a : public utility

b : a service or commodity provided by a public utility paid for rent and utilities also : equipment or material used in providing such a service or commodity an easement limited to purposes of travel which does not include the right to install utilities Ware v. Public Serv. Co., 412 A.2d 84 (1980)

3  plural : stocks or bonds of utility companies utilities performed poorly

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on utility

What made you want to look up utility? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a nest or breeding place

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!