use / utilize

Gravos

Senior Member
Français - France
Hello!

Question à nos amis anglophones: quelles sont les différences profondes entre "to use" et "to utilize" en anglais?

J'ai l'impression que "utilize" est plus fréquent dans des contextes formels, un peu comme une différence en français entre "utiliser" et "usiter"... mais je n'en suis pas sûr. Les deux termes sont-ils interchangeables ou pas du tout ?

Et côté régional, j'ai l'impression de voir moins fréquemment "utilise" en GB que "utilize" aux US... est-ce que je me trompe ?

Je suis preneur de toute explication.
 
  • Quaeitur

    Senior Member
    French
    Bonjour Gravos
    Quelle est la phrase en français qui vous ammène à poser cette question ? Il est difficile (voir impossible !) de répondre à une question générale comme la votre.
     

    Gravos

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    Alors ça m'arrive souvent de le voir, mais par exemple là je l'ai vu dans une présentation liée au monde de l'informatique sur un système de sauvegarde en local:
    Designed to be utilized as a “back up” to your environment

    Dans ce cas précis par exemple, si j'utilise "use", quelle serait la nuance entre les deux ?
     

    auptitgallo

    Senior Member
    English
    As a native English speaker from the UK here is my reaction to your question, Gravos. First, I would never normally use the spelling utilize (although the spellcheck on my computer always wants to substitute this American spelling!). Second, I would always prefer the use of use, rather than utilise. And, finally, I am completely unaware of any distinction, however subtle, between the meaning of the two verbs. They are synonyms, but in UK we prefer the single syllable version.
     

    Gravos

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    Thanks auptigallo, that's what I was suspecting at first "utilise" is much less frequent in UK, and that might explain your computer spellcheck thing. I have the same behaviour, forcing me to a "z" as well on my french applications :)

    Any thoughts from others?
     

    dannymcmanus

    Member
    English- Australia
    Bonjour Gravos,

    To me at least, utilise/utilize rarely seems more appropriate than "use". It often sounds clumsy. A quick google search seems to confirm this. Although, there is a suggestion that "utilise" has a slightly nuanced meaning and is appropriately employed in circumstances where something has been put to good use for something that was not its intended purpose.

    I hope that helps.
     

    auptitgallo

    Senior Member
    English
    "Utilise"... is more formal. (#7)

    I'm not sure I can agree with EM about this; to my mind it is merely longer and more pompous or self important!! 'Use' is not in any way informal; nor is 'utilise' more formal.
     

    treyzinbox

    New Member
    English (US)
    From Vappingo.com
    There is a Difference Between the Words Use and Utilize and you Really Should Know It - Online Editing and Proofreading Services. Affordable Editors and Proofreaders.
    ---------
    To use something means to employ it for a given purpose.

    To utilize something is to turn it to a practical use. Hmm, so how is this different from using something? Well, the difference between use and utilize can be found in the purpose for which you are employing something; when you utilize something you give it a new use that it may not originally have had.

    It is actually very easy to choose between use and utilize in your written English. Basically, you need to assess whether the item you are referring to is usually employed in the manner to which you are attributing it.
    For example, you use a pencil to draw, but you do not usually utilize a pencil as a weapon:
    • "The airport security confiscated her pencil because they were concerned that it may be utilized as a weapon."
    • "You can use my pencil for the sketch if yours is blunt."
    ---------
    This makes sense when you look at the etymology of each (from Wikitionary.org)
    -use: From Middle English use, from Old French us, from Latin ūsus (“use, custom, skill, habit”), from past participle stem of ūtor (“use”)
    (meanings of ūsus)
    1. use, employment, exercise
    2. practice experience, discipline, skill
    3. habit, usage, custom
    -utilize/utilise: From French utiliser, from Italian utilizzare, from utile (“useful”), from Latin ūtilis, [also related to the word utensile and its origins....]
    (meanings of ūtilis)
    1. Useful, serviceable, beneficial, profitable, advantageous; helpful.
    2. Fit, suitable, adapted, proper.
     

    Jim in Phila

    Senior Member
    American English
    Use and utilize can be used interchangeably, but utilize seems to me somewhat pretentious. However, utilize can be used in the sense of having "a practical use" for something.
     

    Uncle Bob

    Senior Member
    British English
    To utilize something is to turn it to a practical use. Hmm, so how is this different from using something? Well, the difference between use and utilize can be found in the purpose for which you are employing something; when you utilize something you give it a new use that it may not originally have had.

    Theoretically, but I would use "use" in both cases (BE, no idea for AE).

    PS I only use "utilise" when I am half asleep translating utiliser!
     

    treyzinbox

    New Member
    English (US)
    This is what Grammar Girl has to say about it.
    "Use" Versus "Utilize"
    ------
    Surprisingly, “utilize,” a 19th-century loanword from French (8), does have very specific and valid uses, mostly in the scientific world. The word “utilize” often appears “in contexts in which a strategy is put to practical advantage or a chemical or nutrient is being taken up and used effectively” (9). For example, according to the American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style, you might hear “utilize” properly used in a sentence such as “If a diet contains too much phosphorus, calcium is not utilized efficiently” (9).
    ------
    It sounds to me that in many cases "use" and "utilize" can be used interchangeably with their differences in nuances of meaning not having any real impact on the overall meaning or the sense of a sentence, but I think it can be recognized that there is indeed a difference and that both Grammar Girl and Vappingo have both done a very good job on explaining those differences and shades of meaning.
     
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