Difference Between Use and Utilize

Main Difference: The main difference between Use and Utilize is that Use means to employ something to achieve a purpose while Utilize means to employ something to achieve a purpose that is not originally intended from it.

Many of us use the two words use and utilize as synonyms. We often use utilize in official documents like business reports, cover letters, etc. thinking that it is a more formal and suitable. However many English language experts are of the idea that overusing utilize makes your writing pretentious and silly. In addition, there is also a distinct difference between use and utilize, which makes using utilize instead of use grammatically incorrect.

What is Use

Use is a word we frequently use in day to day life. Use means to employ something for a particular purpose. According to Oxford Dictionary, Use means to “Take, hold, or deploy (something) as a means of accomplishing or achieving something; employ.”

This article is easy to understand as the writer uses simple language.

I used your key to open the door.

You can use my room to change clothes.

Difference between use and utilize

I use various spices to enhance the flavor of this curry. 


What is Utilize

Utilize is a 19th-century loanword from French verb ‘utilizer’ meaning ‘to use’. Many people use Utilize instead of Use in various contexts such as cover letters, business reports, research papers, etc. to show off their knowledge and intelligence. It is a word that is being overused in today’s society. Utilize has a very specific and valid use.

Oxford dictionary defines utilize as a word that means to make or render useful; to convert to use, turn to account. If you look at this definition, this means that using something for a purpose other than its intended purpose. Here, you are converting its use. For example,

We had to utilize the dining room as a meeting hall.

Utilize is also used in the world of science. Utilize refers to “contexts in which a strategy is put to practical advantage or a chemical or nutrient is being taken up and used effectively”. For example,

Vitamin C helps your body utilize the iron present in your diet.

So, if you are a scientific writer, you can use this word. But if not, try to avoid the word utilize, as many find this word to be pretentious. For instance, you can say “I can apply my… skills to meet deadlines”‘instead of “I can utilize my …..skills to meet deadlines.”

use vs utilize

Eating food that contain Vitamin C helps your body utilize the iron present in your diet.


What is the Difference between Use and Utilize


Use means to employ something to achieve a purpose.

Utilize means to employ something to achieve a purpose that is not originally intended from it.


Use is commonly used and accepted.

Utilize is misused by many and many find it pretentious.


It is always safe to use use.

It is better to avoid utilize if you are not sure about its usage.


Use is used in a general context.

In a scientific context, utilize has another meaning.


Burchfield, R. W, ed. The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage. Third edition. New York: Oxford, 1996, p. 816. 

About the Author: de Silva

N. de Silva is a graduate, specializing in Sociology. She also works as a part time language educator. With an immense love for language, literature, and psychology she aspires to be a writer who can blend in subject material with linguistic mastery