Monday, November 04, 2002

Etymology Today from M-W: utile \YOO-tul or YOO-tyle\
: useful

For over a hundred years before "useful" entered our language, "utile" served us well on its own. We borrowed "utile" from Middle French in the 15th century. The French derived it from Latin "utilis," meaning "useful," which in turn comes from "uti," meaning "to use." "Uti" (the past participle of which is "usus") is also the source of our "use" and "useful." We've been using "use" since at least the 13th century, but we didn't acquire "useful" until the late 16th century, when William Shakespeare inserted it into _King
John_. Needless to say, we've come to prefer "useful" over "utile" since then, though "utile" functions as a very usable
synonym. Other handy terms derived from "uti" include "utilize," "usury," "abuse" and "utensil."

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