a preponderance of punctuation marks (reedrover) wrote,
a preponderance of punctuation marks
reedrover

gripe of the day: "utilize" vs. "use"

I really get annoyed when people use the word "utilize" when they really just mean "use." Sure, they can be synonyms, but it just sounds so pretentious (and, to me, ignorant) when I hear it.


use, verb
1. To put into service or apply for a purpose; employ.
2. To avail oneself of; practice: use caution.
3. To conduct oneself toward; treat or handle: “the peace offering of a man who once used you unkindly” (Laurence Sterne).
4. To seek or achieve an end by means of; exploit: used their highly placed friends to gain access to the president; felt he was being used by seekers of favor.
5. To take or consume; partake of: She rarely used alcohol.

(yes, "use" is also a noun. I'm just arguing about the verb form.)

utilize, verb
1. put into service; make work or employ (something) for a particular purpose or for its inherent or natural purpose; "use your head!"; "we only use Spanish at home"; "I can't make use of this tool"; "Apply a magnetic field here"; "This thinking was applied to many projects"; "How do you utilize this tool?"; "I apply this rule to get good results"; "use the plastic bags to store the food"; "He doesn't know how to use a computer" [syn: use, utilise, apply, employ]
2. convert (from an investment trust to a unit trust)

Usage Note: A number of critics have remarked that utilize is an unnecessary substitute for use. It is true that many occurrences of utilize could be replaced by use with no loss to anything but pretentiousness, for example, in sentences such as They utilized questionable methods in their analysis or We hope that many commuters will continue to utilize mass transit after the bridge has reopened. But utilize can mean “to find a profitable or practical use for.” Thus the sentence The teachers were unable to use the new computers might mean only that the teachers were unable to operate the computers, whereas The teachers were unable to utilize the new computers suggests that the teachers could not find ways to employ the computers in instruction.
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