Definition of “use” - English Dictionary

“use” in British English

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uk /juːz/ us /juːz/

use verb (PURPOSE)

A1 us uk /juːz/ [ T ] used, used to put something such as a tool, skill, or building to a particular purpose:

This glass has been used - could you get me a clean one?
Going on the expedition gives me a chance to use all the training I've had.
The old hospital isn't used any more.
These lights are used for illuminating the playing area.
To use military force against the protesters would be unacceptable.

More examples

  • Your table manners are appalling - don't you know how to use a knife and fork?
  • Please use the side entrance.
  • If we clear out the spare room, you can use it as a study.
  • The teacher demonstrated how to use the equipment.
  • Pronouns are often used to refer to a noun that has already been mentioned.

use verb (REDUCE)

B1 us uk /juːz/ [ T ] used, used to reduce the amount of or finish something, by eating it, burning it, writing on it, or by a chemical reaction:

We've used (up) nearly all of the bread - will you buy some more?
Does she still use drugs?
Don't worry if you use the shampoo up (= use all of it) - I'll get more tomorrow.

More examples

  • There wasn't enough coal during the war, so we had to use it sparingly.
  • We used four tins of paint when we painted the ceiling.
  • There's no hot water - Rachel used it all for her bath.
  • All right - who used the last carton of milk?
  • Can I use some of that wrapping paper, or do you need it yourself?

use verb (WORD)

B2 uk /juːz/ us [ T ] used, used to say or write a particular word or phrase:

"Autumn" is used in British English and "fall" in American English.
That's an expression she often uses to describe how she feels.


C2 us uk /juːz/ [ T ] used, used usually disapproving to take advantage of a person or situation; to exploit:

He's just using you - he'll steal your ideas and then take the credit for them himself.
It might be possible to use their mistake to help us get what we want.

More examples

  • She uses her newspaper column to expound her views on environmental issues.
  • I think that some of her friends use her, rather, because she is so generous.
  • She is just using the situation to gain a lot of cheap publicity.
  • Many illegal immigrants are being shamefully used by unscrupulous employers.
  • After years of being used and abused by her husband, Ruth finally left him.

Phrasal verb(s)


uk /juːs/ us /juːs/

use noun (PURPOSE)

B1 [ C or U ] a purpose for which something is used:

A food processor has a variety of uses in the kitchen.
Don't throw that cloth away, you'll find a use for it one day.
No, I don't want to buy a boat - I don't have any use for one!

A2 [ U ] the act of using something, or a period of time when something is being used or can be used:

You should be able to put your experience in electronics to (good) use in your new job.
Don't touch the machine when it's in use.
a flat-screen TV that becomes a mirror when it is not in use
It's a name that has almost fallen out of use (= is hardly used now ).
There has been an increase in the use of migrant workers in recent years.
Traditional farming methods are going out of/coming into use (= used less and less/more and more) in many areas.
make use of sth

B2 to use something that is available:

We might as well make use of the hotel's facilities.
the use of sth

C2 permission to use something, or the ability to use something:

They said we could have the use of their beach house whenever they weren't there.
She hurt her arm in the fall and lost the use of her fingers temporarily.

More examples

  • The use of cameras in this museum is strictly forbidden.
  • I made good use of my time , mixing with a lot of different people and practising my Spanish.
  • We make helicopters mainly for military use rather than civil use.
  • There was a big controversy over the use of drugs in athletics.
  • We disapprove of this use of company funds for political purposes.

use noun (WORD)

[ C ] one of the meanings of a word, or the way that a particular word is used:

Can you list all the uses of the word "point"?

(Definition of “use” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“use” in American English

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useverb [ T ]

us /juz/

use verb [ T ] (PUT INTO SERVICE)

to put something into your service for a purpose:

Do you know how to use a computer?
We could use your help.
She uses so many big words, it’s hard to understand her.

use verb [ T ] (MAKE IT LESS)

to reduce the amount of something:

We have used all the funds in that account.

use verb [ T ] (ACT SELFISH)

to be friendly toward someone for your own advantage or purposes:

She used him to help her get into movies and then discarded him.
adjective us /ˈju·zə·bəl/

able to be used for a purpose:

The house needs a lot of work to make it usable.


Phrasal verb(s)

usenoun [ C/U ]

us /jus/

use noun [ C/U ] (PUT INTO SERVICE)

If someone or something is of no use, it cannot be of help:

[ U ] There’s no use paying for a permit if you won’t need it.
[ U ] He was of no use to us because he couldn’t work every day.

(Definition of “use” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)