Choosing the correct words
when you write is critical. It assures that there is no
ambiguity between your intended meaning and the reader’s
understanding of the document. Words that have similar
definitions can be especially difficult to work with. “Use”
and “utilize” are two words that have frequently been used
interchangeably. Students in particular tend to do this,
because the word “utilize” sounds more formal. The problem,
however, is that there is a slight difference in the meaning
of the two words.
Here are the definitions:
The act or practice of
employing something (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate
Dictionary, 11th ed.).
– John used the table saw to
cut the plywood.
To put to use, especially to
find a profitable or practical use for (The American
Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th
– Elizabeth utilized the old tub as a planter.
Note that the primary
difference is that “utilize” indicates using something for
other than its intended purpose.