n. pl. u·til·i·ties
1. The quality or condition of being useful; usefulness: "I have always doubted the utility of these conferences on disarmament" (Winston S. Churchill).
2. A useful article or device.
a. A public utility.
b. A commodity or service, such as electricity, water, or public transportation, that is provided by a public utility.
4. Computers A utility program.
5. Economics The benefit that a chosen course of action affords, as subjectively judged by the chooser.
1. Used, serving, or working in several capacities as needed, especially:
a. Prepared to play any of the smaller theatrical roles on short notice: a utility cast member.
b. Capable of playing as a substitute in any of several positions: a utility infielder.
2. Designed for various often heavy-duty practical uses: a utility knife; a utility vehicle.
3. Raised or kept for the production of a farm product rather than for show or as pets: utility livestock.
4. Of the lowest US Government grade: utility beef.
[Middle English utilite, from Old French, from Latin ūtilitās, from ūtilis, useful, from ūtī, to use.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.