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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Examples of utility in a Sentence

Noun a plan without much practical utility Notify the utility if there's an outage.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Second, the price Gilead set for the drug is more than 10 times higher than what the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review estimates is a fair price for remdesivir ($310), given the drug’s modest therapeutic utility. Christopher Morten, STAT, "A powerful law gives HHS the right to take control of remdesivir manufacturing and distribution," 2 July 2020 The city/One South Euclid grant money can be used by businesses for rent, mortgage payments, payroll, utility bills and to purchase COVID-19 supplies or supplies regularly needed for their business. cleveland, "One South Euclid teams with city and University Suburban to supply grants to 57 local small businesses," 2 July 2020 Moreno said that while her hourly pay increased by only a dollar, that money will help pay for essentials like utility bills and for her daughter’s violin lessons, as well as assistance for her elderly parents. Chase Difeliciantonio, SFChronicle.com, "‘Least of my worries’: Minimum wage hikes in Bay Area add to costs, could boost spending," 1 July 2020 On Monday, the state's utility regulatory agency approved a $146 million increase in annual revenue for Duke Energy. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, "State approves $146 million rate increase for Duke Energy, but 60% less than what it wanted," 29 June 2020 The $2,500 is to be used for daily necessities such as vehicle or home repairs, utility bills, childcare if the veteran is deemed an essential worker, lodging/housing assistance, medical expenses and food/personal care assistance. Kaleb A. Brown, Detroit Free Press, "Oakland County veterans impacted pandemic can receive financial aid," 24 June 2020 Puerto Rico’s bankrupt public power utility signed a long-term deal to outsource the business of delivering electricity, making an expensive bet that private operators can curb the high costs and service problems that have long plagued consumers. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Puerto Rico Puts Private Firms in Charge of Public Power," 22 June 2020 The country’s largest utility pleaded guilty Tuesday to 84 felony counts of involuntary manslaughter stemming from one of the many wildfires that have ravaged parts of California in recent years. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "PG&E pleads guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for 2018 Northern California fire," 17 June 2020 Both Hammons and Bredhold expect IPL will try to recoup the cost of that penalty from customers through proceedings before the state’s utility regulatory agency. Sarah Bowman, Indianapolis Star, "IPL's Petersburg plant is the worst water polluter in state, violates permit 120 times," 8 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective As the Tigers move into their rebuild, having a homegrown, super-utility player — not to mention somebody who can play catcher — would become extremely valuable. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "The Detroit Tigers' next super sub? Lance Parrish might have found him," 2 July 2020

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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Learn More about utility

Time Traveler for utility

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for utility

Last Updated

6 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Utility.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/utility. Accessed 8 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for utility


How to pronounce utility (audio)

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 utilitiesWare v. Public Serv. Co., 412 A.2d 84 (1980)
3 plural : stocks or bonds of utility companies utilities performed poorly

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