1781, coined by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) from utility + -arian on the model of + unitarian, etc. One guided by the doctrine of the greatest happiness for the greatest number. From 1802 as an adjective; in the general sense "having regard to utility rather than beauty," from 1847.
[Bentham] had a phrase, expressive of the view he took of all moral speculations to which his method had not been applied, or (which he considered as the same thing) not founded on a recognition of utility as the moral standard ; this phrase was "vague generalities." Whatever presented itself to him in such a shape, he dismissed as unworthy of notice, or dwelt upon only to denounce as absurd. He did not heed, or rather the nature of his mind prevented it from occurring to him, that these generalities contained the whole unanalyzed experience of the human race. [John Stuart Mill, "The Works of Jeremy Bentham," London and Westminster Review, August 1838]
updated on September 26, 2020