Using “utilize” instead of “use”?

My friend has been raising a ruckus about the abuse of the word “utilize” in place of the word “use.” He complains that it just makes your sentences sound pretentious.

u·ti·lize [yoot-l-ahyz]

  • verb (used with object), -lized, -liz·ing.
    to put to use; turn to profitable account: to utilize a stream to power a mill.

utilize. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved April 06, 2011, from website:

Today we saw this post which uses “utilize”:

each app vendor may utilize unique policies for app pricing.”

He claims that this isn’t a very good sentence to use “utilize” in. I don’t disagree but what determines whether or not you should use “utilize” in place of “use?”


This goes way back. From the Online Ety. Dict.:

1807, from Fr. utiliser, from It.
utilizzare, from utile “usable,” from
L. utilis “usable,” from uti (see use

It’s used in the sense of “to make profitable use of,” as opposed to the bare “use,” which just means “to employ.” There’s a nuance there that speakers have found useful. The only error is the use of “utilize” when “use” alone would suffice.

Source : Link , Question Author : dting , Answer Author : The Raven

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