late 14c., "fact of being useful," from Old French utilite "usefulness" (13c., Modern French + utilité), earlier utilitet (12c.), from Latin utilitatem (nominative utilitas) "usefulness, serviceableness, profit," from utilis "usable," from uti "make use of, profit by, take advantage of" (see use (v.)). Meaning "a useful thing" is from late 15c. As a shortened form of public utility it is recorded from 1930.
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