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Why use utilize, I ask?


This is how I feel when someone wants me to write “utilize.”

Has this ever happened to you?

More than once I’ve written copy for a client who was happy with what I produced, but insisted on changing the word use to utilize throughout the document.


Why do people think utilize sounds more effective than the plain three-letter word use? I don’t get it.

Those who work with me know that utilize is a word I refuse to use. When someone sticks in a utilize after I’ve finished writing, the piece is just plain useless to me (pardon the pun) as a sample of my work.

Does that make me a neurotic writer or just a principled one? Some people claim that utilize has a specific purpose, but I’ve never bought this argument.

If you produce written material, how do you feel about utilize?

About Donna Papacosta

Writer, speaker, podcaster, communications and social media consultant, workshop leader and part-time university instructor. As a consultant, I emphasize the importance of storytelling and relationship-building, and enjoy helping people understand how today’s technology, combined with tried-and-true tactics, can help them communicate better with employees, customers and prospects. In other words: Share your story, build your business.

2 Responses to "Why use utilize, I ask?"

  • Sue Horner
    February 1, 2013 - 2:31 PM Reply

    As you know, I am totally with you on this one, Donna! It makes me weep when someone turns a perfectly natural quote or piece of writing into a stiff, cold version with “utilize.”

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