Using "Utilize"

Is there ever a good time to use the word utilize?

You never know when your scientist husband will ask you a question about words. In this case, his supervisor keeps inserting the word utilize into a paper he’s about to publish.

My husband doesn’t really have a choice in the matter — a supervisor is a supervisor.

But here’s my answer to his question:


Almost never.

Utilize has seven letters and three syllables. It can also be confusing, because British people tend to spell it utilise.

Now, I could brush all that aside if utilize passed the conversation test. As in, would you use it in conversation?



And if we wouldn’t use a word in conversation, why would we use it in our writing?

What is wrong with beautiful little use?

Use has three letters and is just one syllable long. Everyone knows what it means.

The only time you truly need the word utilize is in science, if you mean one thing is making practical and effective use of another thing, like the body utilizing vitamin D. Although it still sounds like use would work in that context.

Please — unless you’re a scientist and you’re forced to — stop using the word utilize.