util·​i·​ty | \ yü-ˈti-lə-tē How to pronounce utility (audio) \
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
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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for utility

Synonyms: Noun

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

Antonyms: Noun

uselessness, worthlessness

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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

The opt-out rate for California utilities hovers around 3 to 5 percent. San Diego Union-Tribune, "City of San Diego predicts community choice energy can beat SDG&E rates by 5% on customers’ bills," 30 June 2019 Maryland spends $210 million a year on utilities for state buildings, Energy Administration Director Mary Beth Tung said. Washington Post, "Maryland’s state-owned buildings must cut energy use 10 percent in next decade," 26 June 2019 State leaders have instead focused their discussions on utility companies’ financial responsibility for the blazes, how to pay for damages from wildfires and cutting back vegetation and other ways to manage the state’s forests. Liam Dillon, latimes.com, "3 of 4 Californians want to restrict housing in wildfire-prone areas, poll says," 18 June 2019 Among those at the first Show & Tell, there was a focus on utility: how to make the data meaningful toward some useful end. Joseph Reagle, Quartzy, "The psychology of self-tracking," 16 June 2019 More Renewable Energy At the same time, coal is increasingly unprofitable for utilities. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Renewables Outproduced Coal Power in the U.S. for the First Time Ever," 2 May 2019 The new infrastructure replacement fee, which is $10 a month or $30 per quarter, will be added to utility bills after July 1, the mayor said. David Anderson, baltimoresun.com, "Havre de Grace 2020 budget passes with infrastructure replacement fee, additional funding for Youth Commission," 20 June 2019 Argentina is going through a deep economic crisis with soaring inflation, a tumbling currency and a spike in utility bills fueled by Macri’s decision to cut subsidies as part of an austerity campaign. Washington Post, "Blackout in South America raises questions about power grid," 17 June 2019 In filing after filing, Hunter disclosed spending that did not appear to satisfy federal campaign rules, including donations being used for video-game purchases, garage door repair, utility bills and more. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Margaret Hunter admits guilt in campaign-finance scandal," 13 June 2019

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.

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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

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Statistics for utility

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for utility

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

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More Definitions for utility



English Language Learners Definition of utility

 (Entry 1 of 2)

formal : 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 How to pronounce utility (audio) \
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
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

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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).


characterized by aphorism

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