Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of, relating to, or in the interests of utility: utilitarian considerations in industrial design.
  • adj. Exhibiting or stressing utility over other values; practical: plain, utilitarian kitchenware.
  • adj. Of, characterized by, or advocating utilitarianism.
  • n. One who advocates or practices utilitarianism.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. of or relating to utility
  • adj. practical and functional, not just for show.
  • n. Someone who practices or advocates utilitarianism.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to utility; consisting in utility; �iming at utility as distinguished from beauty, ornament, etc.; sometimes, reproachfully, evincing, or characterized by, a regard for utility of a lower kind, or marked by a sordid spirit.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to utilitarianism; supporting utilitarianism.
  • n. One who holds the doctrine of utilitarianism.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Consisting in or pertaining to utility; having regard to utility rather than beauty and the like; specifically, making the greatest good of the greatest number the prime consideration. See the quotations.
  • n. One who holds the doctrine of utilitarianism.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. having a useful function
  • n. someone who believes that the value of a thing depends on its utility
  • adj. having utility often to the exclusion of values

Etymologies

utilit(y) + -arian.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1781 utility +‎ -arian (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Guy Gavriel Kay approached the topic from what he termed a utilitarian perspective of the author who uses time as one of many tools in the authorial toolbox for providing narrative solutions.

    March « 2009 « Dynamic Subspace

  • I probably shouldn't have expressed my objection in utilitarian "does it do more harm than good?" terms.

    Your Right Hand Thief

  • Mill famously tried to accomodate this fact within utilitarian structure with a doctrine of “higher” and “lower” pleasures, though not especially convincingly.

    In Search of Higher Pleasures

  • While the period of interference from political totalitarianism has passed, is it not the case that frequently, across the globe, the exercise of reason and academic research are – subtly and not so subtly – constrained to bow to the pressures of ideological interest groups and the lure of short-term utilitarian or pragmatic goals?

    Academic freedom found in the authority of truth

  • He frames his theory in utilitarian terms: because women tend to be more group-oriented, and to be paid less, we may expect them to favour a political system that taxes heavily and spends the taxes on communal improvements, such as crèches or police patrols.

    December 25th, 2005

  • According to most legal scholars, the writers of the Constitution viewed copyright in utilitarian terms.

    The Heavenly Jukebox

  • Having caught up the word utilitarian, while knowing nothing whatever about it but its sound, they habitually express by it the rejection, or the neglect, of pleasure in some of its forms; of beauty, of ornament, or of amusement.

    Utilitarianism

  • [1] The author of this essay has reason for believing himself to be the first person who brought the word utilitarian into use.

    Utilitarianism

  • I probably would have to self-describe as a utilitarian, or at least a consequentialist: I believe that moral rules are just a codification of “what we need to do to live together without killing each other.”

    The Starry Heavens Above and the Moral Law Within (the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex)

  • Usually the outdoors fixture are a little bit more utilitarian, which is really in right now, sort of this vintage-style look.

    CNN Transcript May 24, 2008

Comments

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  • "I'm a Utilitarian, so I don't see the rule against lying as absolute; it's always subject to some overriding utility which may prevent its exercise." - Peter Singer

    July 30, 2008