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This page Utility is part of the utility series. Illustration: Powerhouse mechanic working on steam pump, 1920
This page Utility is part of the utility series.
Illustration: Powerhouse mechanic working on steam pump, 1920

"Nothing is really beautiful but that which cannot be made use of; everything that is useful is ugly, for it is the expression of some need, and the needs of man are vile and disgusting, like his poor, weak nature.--The most useful part of a house is the privy."--Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835) by Théophile Gautier

"Meaning is use"--Ludwig Wittgenstein

Related e



In economics, utility is a measure of the relative satisfaction from or desirability of consumption of goods. Given this measure, one may speak meaningfully of increasing or decreasing utility, and thereby explain economic behavior in terms of attempts to increase one's utility. For illustrative purposes, changes in utility are sometimes expressed in units called utils.

The doctrine of utilitarianism saw the maximization of utility as a moral criterion for the organization of society. According to utilitarians, such as Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1876), society should aim to maximize the total utility of individuals, aiming for "the greatest happiness for the greatest number".

In neoclassical economics, rationality is precisely defined in terms of imputed utility-maximizing behavior under economic constraints. As a hypothetical behavioral measure, utility does not require attribution of mental states suggested by "happiness", "satisfaction", etc.

Use may refer to:

or to:

  • Consumption, whether economic (i.e. microeconomic), or indicative of devouring or occupying
  • Utilization, quantification of the use of assets to be continuously let


From Proto-Indo-European *oyt- (“to take along, fetch”). Compare the future stem οἴσ- of Ancient Greek φέρω (pherō, “carry”).

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Utility" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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