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.

2. Adaptation to satisfy the desires or wants; intrinsic value.

3. Happiness; the greatest good, or happiness, of the greatest number, the foundation of utilitarianism.

Synonyms: 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.

(01 Mar 1998)

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