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In Most Cases, Don’t “Use” “Utilize”

I hate the word utilize. The word is so pretentious and usually sticks out among the other words in the sentence or paragraph in which it’s used.

And it’s almost always misused. Perhaps that’s why my grammar check wanted me to substitute use for utilize. Plus, my blog isn’t called “utilizingtherightwords.”

For background, utilize is a French derivative that entered the English language around 1890. It’s definition: “to make use of.”

Given that definition, why not just use use? It’s simpler, it’s shorter, and it’s not at all pretentious and snooty.

People seem to think words can’t be used over and over, that they need to use synonyms each time. There are two words that cannot be overused: said, when quoting a person; and use.

However, I said utilize  is ALMOST always misused. According to Grammar Girlutilize has use in the scientific world. says to use utilize when you have found an untraditional manner in which to create a new job for the item. points out that the sentence “The teachers were unable to use the new computers” could mean they couldn’t operate them, whereas “The teachers couldn’t utilize the computers” could mean they couldn’t access them.

So, utilize utilize sparingly and use use more often.

Until next time! Use the right words!


April 9, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , ,

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