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This word actually has a meaning of its own, different from “use.” But you’d never know it, with the near-universal tendency of formal writing to describe every use as a UTILIZATION. Strictly speaking, something is utilized when it starts off being useless, but someone cleverly makes it useful.

By that definition, you cannot “utilize” a hammer to pound a nail. It is already expressly useful for that purpose. When someone wrote “Funds will be utilized to employ two new account managers,” the result was a double folly. Not only does money not need to be “utilized” (it is already just about universally useful), but money cannot “employ” anyone. The writer meant to say that the funds would be used to pay for two new staff people. In the ethereal realm of philanthropy, we evidently don’t.


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