Dictionary > Utility


1. The quality or state of being useful; usefulness; production of good; profitableness to some valuable end; as, the utility of manure upon land; the utility of the sciences; the utility of medicines. The utility of the enterprises was, however, so great and obvious that all opposition proved useless. (Macaulay)
2. Adaptation to satisfy the desires or wants; intrinsic value. See note under Value. Value in use is utility, and nothing else, and in political economy should be called by that name and no other. (F. A. Walker)
3. Happiness; the greatest good, or happiness, of the greatest number, the foundation of utilitarianism.
Synonym: Usefulness, advantageous, benefit, profit, avail, service.
Utility, Usefulness. Usefulness has an Anglo-saxon prefix, utility is latin; and hence the former is used chiefly of things in the concrete, while the latter is employed more in a general and abstract sense. Thus, we speak of the utility of an invention, and the usefulness of the thing invented; of the utility of an institution, and the usefulness of an individual. So beauty and utility (not usefulness) are brought into comparison. Still, the words are often used interchangeably.
Origin: OE. Utilite, F. Utilite, L. Utilitas, fr. Utilis useful. See Utile.

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