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

Subscribe to get warnings for imminent dangers, preventative instructions, evacuation directions, urgent safety alerts, access to essential resources, critical transit and utility outages, etc. Mary Lou Cruz, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Davie area events July 18-28," 14 July 2018 The city plans to bring utilities and city services to the property. Katherine Feser, Houston Chronicle, "Wolff Cos. bets on the U.S. 290 for its next development," 13 July 2018 Several cars, street signs and utilities boxes had been spray painted with graffiti, ranging from swastikas to racial slurs to phallic symbols. Caroline Blackmon, Detroit Free Press, "Vandals spray painted swastikas, racial slurs in Independence Township," 12 July 2018 The Marlins are also believed to be fielding calls on utility infielder Miguel Rojas, first baseman Justin Bour, starting pitcher Dan Straily and outfielder Derek Dietrich. Clark Spencer, miamiherald, "Which Marlins are more likely to be traded before the July 31 deadline?," 11 July 2018 The report recommends increasing education to improve financial literacy, streamlining the mortgage process, and expanding the scope of credit evaluations to include rent and utility payments as possible ways to increase millennial homeownership. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "Why aren’t millennials buying houses?," 11 July 2018 Pumped hydro is an old concept, and such systems have been used to store energy long before utility-scale chemical batteries were economically feasible. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Monster energy project wants to use Loch Ness as a giant battery," 7 July 2018 The price of utility-scale solar dropped by nearly a third from 2016 to 2017 and, today, in some parts of the United States, wind is now more competitive than coal. New York Times, "A History of the Energy We Have Consumed," 18 June 2018 Strata Solar has built about 160 utility-scale projects, the vast majority in North Carolina. Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg.com, "Trump's Love for Coal and Republicans Who Want More Solar," 7 June 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

Phrases Related to utility

utility pole

utility room

Statistics for utility

Last Updated

13 Oct 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).


one that holds something together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!