Why I despise the word utilize and so should you

For the last several years,  the word utilize has met the wrath of my red pen whenever it appears in any copy that crosses my desk. It’s a word that makes me squirm, cringe and send sidelong glances at anyone nearby who has heard my treatise on why I despise the word utilize.

So why do I despise it?

Because 99% of the time the word use gets the job done more concisely, economically and accurately than utilize. Utilize, which is often misused in copy and conversation, is inflated and fluffy. Use means to employ an object for an intended purpose. Utilize means to employ an object for an unintended purpose. Each word has a distinct meaning, yet most people incorrectly use them interchangeably.

So if you use the word utilize correctly, I’ll cut you some slack. Otherwise, I’ll remove it with the precision of a Samurai sword and I bet you won’t even miss it.

Utilize or use? Which do you use and why?

Comments

  1. I like your post 🙂

  2. I’m with you on “utilize”. Whenever I see it, I think the writer lacks confidence in their word choices and uses “utilize” to sound …more important? More technical? I like my writing clean and concise. Other favorite words I dislike include “moreover” and “in order to”.

    Great blog! I’ve subscribed to your RSS feed.

    • Thank you Tisa. Glad to have you aboard. I think we could probably write several blog posts on word choice. Hmmm . . . making a mental note.

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