Sometime around the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, the word utilize has begun to creep into the English language as a fancy synonym for use. To this I say, "Bad English! No biscuit!"

Simply put, "use" is the generic word that you say or write when talking about how you employed something for some purpose. For example: I used the pencil to write the letter.

"Utilize" is only used when the purpose for which you employ the thing is something other than its primary or common purpose. For example: I utilized the pencil to prop up the table leg.

So now you know, and knowing is half the battle!

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