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wired

In my head, use and utilize are different words. One has to do with applying (noun) in the method it was intended. The other has to do with being MacGyver.

Use: "I use silicon lubricant when having sex."
Utilize: "I utilize silicon lubricant to tame my frizzy hair."

(pretty much the same formulation, as it turns out)

Sadly, no one makes the distinction anymore. "I use my rolling pin to make pie crust, and utilize it to kill fish. I use powerpoint to make business presentations, and utilize it to play movies."

It's one of my old-reliable rants, third on the list after:
Why The Passive Voice Does Not Do It For Me
and
Via Was An Ancient Roman Road

Kris

Thank you! The American Heritage dictionary defines utilize as "to put to use."

What's the difference?

I do like the explanation by "wired," however. That makes some sense.

It still bugs me to no end.

Prentiss Riddle

Yeah. Although at least as far back as when Norman French gave the English language a distinction between the master's "beef" on the plate and the peasant's "cow" on the hoof, English has had synonyms whose main purpose was to indicate register, formality and (at times) socioeconomic class. We all use them. Why don't you hate the word "loathe"?

But "utilize" bugs me, too.

One word which doesn't bug me is "user". I'm reading an otherwise pretty good book which insists on substituting "customer-centered design" for "user-centered design" on the grounds that only druggies are "users". Give me a break! Anybody who uses anything is a "user". The reason "user" came to dominate IT is that there's no other verb that encompasses what people do with computers. Users of cars drive them, so they can be called "drivers"; users of restaurants dine there, so they can be called "diners". But even people who dislike the noun "user" offer no alternative to the verb "use". Unless it's maybe "utilize". :-)

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