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use (yz)
v. used, us·ing, us·es
1. To put into service or employ for a purpose: I used a whisk to beat the eggs. The song uses only three chords.
2. To avail oneself of; practice: use caution.
3. To conduct oneself toward; treat or handle: "the peace offering of a man who once used you unkindly" (Laurence Sterne).
4. To seek or achieve an end by means of; exploit: used their highly placed friends to gain access to the president; felt he was being used by seekers of favor.
a. To take or consume for a purpose: She used her savings to buy a computer.
b. To partake of, especially as a habit: She rarely uses alcohol.
1. (ys, yst) Used in the past tense followed by to in order to indicate a former state, habitual practice, or custom: Mail service used to be faster.
2. Slang To take an illegal or narcotic drug, especially as a habit.
n. (ys)
a. The act of using something; the application or employment of something for a purpose: with the use of a calculator; skilled in the use of the bow and arrow.
b. The condition or fact of being used: a chair in regular use.
2. The manner of using; usage: learned the proper use of power tools.
a. The permission, privilege, or benefit of using something: gave us the use of their summerhouse.
b. The power or ability to use something: lost the use of one arm.
4. The need or occasion to use or employ something: I have no use for these old clothes.
5. The quality of being suitable or adaptable to an end; usefulness: I tried to be of use in the kitchen.
6. A purpose for which something is used: a tool with several uses; a pretty bowl, but of what use is it?
7. Gain or advantage; good: There's no use in discussing it. What's the use?
a. Accustomed or usual procedure or practice: "We are but creatures of use and custom" (Mark Twain).
b. A particular custom or practice: uses introduced by recent immigrants.
9. Law
a. Enjoyment of property, as by occupying or employing it.
b. The benefit or profit of lands and tenements of which the legal title is vested in another.
c. The arrangement establishing the equitable right to such benefits and profits.
10. A liturgical form practiced in a particular church, ecclesiastical district, or community.
Phrasal Verb:
use up
To consume completely: used up all our money.
make use of
To use for a purpose.

[Middle English usen, from Old French user, from Vulgar Latin *ūsāre, frequentative of Latin ūtī. N., Middle English, from Old French us, from Latin ūsus, from past participle of ūtī.]

Usage Note: The verb use is used in the past tense with an infinitive to indicate a past condition or habitual practice: We used to live in that house. Because the -d in used has merged with the t of to and is not pronounced in these constructions, people sometimes mistakenly leave it out when writing. Thus it is incorrect to write We use to play tennis. When do occurs with this form of use in negative statements and in questions, the situation is reversed, and use to (not used to) is correct: You did not use to play on that team. Didn't she use to work for your company?

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.