What does utilitarian mean?

Definitions for utilitarian
yuˌtɪl ɪˈtɛər i ənutil·i·tar·i·an

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word utilitarian.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. utilitarianadjective

    someone who believes that the value of a thing depends on its utility

  2. utilitarian, usefuladjective

    having a useful function

    "utilitarian steel tables"

  3. utilitarianadjective

    having utility often to the exclusion of values

    "plain utilitarian kitchenware"


  1. utilitariannoun

    Someone who practices or advocates utilitarianism.

  2. utilitarianadjective

    of or relating to utility

  3. utilitarianadjective

    practical and functional, not just for show.


  1. utilitarian

    In ethical philosophy, utilitarianism is a family of normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals. Although different varieties of utilitarianism admit different characterizations, the basic idea behind all of them is, in some sense, to maximize utility, which is often defined in terms of well-being or related concepts. For instance, Jeremy Bentham, the founder of utilitarianism, described utility as: That property in any object, whereby it tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness ... [or] to prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness to the party whose interest is considered. Utilitarianism is a version of consequentialism, which states that the consequences of any action are the only standard of right and wrong. Unlike other forms of consequentialism, such as egoism and altruism, utilitarianism considers the interests of all sentient beings equally. Proponents of utilitarianism have disagreed on a number of issues, such as whether actions should be chosen based on their likely results (act utilitarianism), or whether agents should conform to rules that maximize utility (rule utilitarianism). There is also disagreement as to whether total utility (total utilitarianism), average utility (average utilitarianism) or the utility of the people worst-off should be maximized. Though the seeds of the theory can be found in the hedonists Aristippus and Epicurus, who viewed happiness as the only good, and in the work of the medieval Indian philosopher Śāntideva, the tradition of modern utilitarianism began with Jeremy Bentham, and continued with such philosophers as John Stuart Mill, Henry Sidgwick, R. M. Hare, and Peter Singer. The concept has been applied towards social welfare economics, the crisis of global poverty, the ethics of raising animals for food, and the importance of avoiding existential risks to humanity.


  1. utilitarian

    Utilitarian refers to the idea or philosophy which advocates for the greatest good for the greatest number of individuals. It is the belief that choices should be based on balancing benefits, usefulness, and positive outcomes against their costs, aiming to create the highest possible level of happiness or satisfaction overall. This concept is often applied in ethical, political, and economic decisions or theories.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Utilitarianadjective

    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; as, utilitarian narrowness; a utilitarian indifference to art

  2. Utilitarianadjective

    of or pertaining to utilitarianism; supporting utilitarianism; as, the utilitarian view of morality; the Utilitarian Society

  3. Utilitariannoun

    one who holds the doctrine of utilitarianism

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Utilitarian

    ū-til-i-tā′ri-an, adj. consisting in, or pertaining to, utility or to utilitarianism.—n. one who holds utilitarianism.—v.t. Utilitā′rianise, to make to serve a utilitarian purpose.—ns. Utilitā′rianism, the ethical theory which finds the basis of moral distinctions in the utility of actions, i.e. their fitness to produce happiness.

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  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of utilitarian in Chaldean Numerology is: 2

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of utilitarian in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8

Examples of utilitarian in a Sentence

  1. Scott Stripling:

    We registered 700 objects this last [excavation] season – seal impressions, scarabs, tools, weapons, jewelry, utilitarian objects, cultic objects, and about 2,000 pieces of pottery a day.

  2. Robert Blecker:

    The death penalty should not be a utilitarian issue in terms of weighing the costs against the benefits, but rather an issue simply of justice, of who deserves it.

  3. Robert Blecker:

    The death penalty should not be a utilitarian issue in terms of weighing the costs against the benefits but rather an issue simply of justice, of who deserves it.

  4. Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov:

    Treading the soil of the moon, palpating its pebbles, tasting the panic and splendor of the event, feeling in the pit of one's stomach the separation from terra... these form the most romantic sensation an explorer has ever known... this is the only thing I can say about the matter. The utilitarian results do not interest me.

  5. Allbirds T-shirts:

    From the start, we knew our vision of evolved environmentalism was broader than just shoes, as the chasm between disposable fast fashion and utilitarian basics has grown the fashion industry has clung to the same outdated methods that continue to drive excessive carbon emissions, soil depletion and synthetic waste... Allbirds apparel not only feels better, performs better and looks better, it's also better for the planet.

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Translations for utilitarian

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"utilitarian." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 27 Feb. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/utilitarian>.

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    lacking in nutritive value
    • A. sesquipedalian
    • B. jejune
    • C. bristly
    • D. inexpiable

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