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Employ vs. Utilise: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on November 13, 2023
"Employ" means to give someone a job or to use something for a particular purpose, while "utilise" specifically means to make practical and effective use of something.

Key Differences

Employ often refers to hiring someone to perform a job or task, implying a formal work relationship. In contrast, utilise means to make use of something effectively, focusing on the practical application of an object or resource.
When employ is used in the context of using an object, it conveys a broader meaning, such as to put something into service. Utilise, however, suggests an efficient or resourceful use of something, especially to achieve a specific purpose.
Employ can also mean to keep oneself occupied or busy with something, while utilise is more about exploiting something to its fullest potential, often in a creative or innovative way.
The usage of employ in the context of employment is more about providing someone with regular work. Utilise is more about the strategic or optimal use of resources or tools available.
Employ has a broader range of meanings including hiring labor and using resources, whereas utilise is more specific to making effective and practical use of something.

Comparison Chart

Primary Meaning

To hire someone for a job; to use something
To make practical and effective use of something


Job employment, general use
Efficient or resourceful use


Hiring labor, using resources
Strategic or optimal use


Broader, includes occupation and utilization
Specifically about efficient use


Formal work relationship, use of objects
Exploiting full potential, often creatively

Employ and Utilise Definitions


To keep oneself busy with an activity.
He employs his time in studying.


To make effective use of something.
The program utilises AI for data analysis.


To hire or provide work to someone.
The company employs over 300 people.


To use something in a practical way.
She utilised her skills to start a business.


To use an object or tool.
They employed advanced technology in the project.


To use something strategically.
The team utilised a new method to increase efficiency.


To use something for a purpose.
He employed a clever strategy to solve the problem.


To exploit something fully.
The company utilises all available resources for production.


To engage someone's services.
She employs a gardener for her estate.


To apply something resourcefully.
He utilised spare parts to repair the machine.


To provide work to (someone) for pay
Agreed to employ the job applicant.


To make use of; to use.


To engage the attention or activity of; occupy
Employed himself for an hour reading blogs.


To make useful; to find a practical use for.


To put (something) to use or service
Employed a pen to open the package.
Employed her skills in the new job.


To make best use of; to use to its fullest extent, potential, or ability.


To make do with; to use in manner different from that originally intended


Put into service; make work or employ (something) for a particular purpose or for its inherent or natural purpose;
Use your head!
We only use Spanish at home
I can't make use of this tool
Apply a magnetic field here
This thinking was applied to many projects
How do you utilize this tool?
I apply this rule to get good results
Use the plastic bags to store the food
He doesn't know how to use a computer


Is utilise always about efficiency?

Typically, yes, it implies making the most effective use of something.

Can employ and utilise be used interchangeably?

In some contexts, they can be, especially when referring to the use of resources or tools.

Is utilise used in a technical context?

Yes, it's often used in technical or strategic contexts.

Can a business utilise its employees?

Yes, in the sense of making effective use of their skills and talents.

Does employ always mean hiring someone for a job?

Not always; it can also mean to use something or to keep oneself busy.

Is it correct to say 'utilise a person'?

It's less common and can imply making use of a person's skills or abilities.

Does utilise imply creativity?

It can, especially when it's about using something in a novel or resourceful way.

Do employ and utilise have the same level of formality?

They are both formal, but utilise may sound more technical.

Can a company employ a strategy?

Yes, "employ" can mean to use a strategy or method.

Can employ be used for temporary tasks?

Yes, it can refer to both permanent and temporary engagement.

Can a method be both employed and utilised?

Yes, a method can be employed (used) and utilised (used effectively).

Is utilise a positive word?

Generally, it has a positive connotation related to efficiency and resourcefulness.

Can one self-employ?

Yes, self-employment refers to working for oneself, not as an employee of someone else.

Does utilising imply full use of potential?

Yes, it often implies using something to its full potential or capacity.

Is utilising resources always beneficial?

Typically, it's seen as beneficial, but it depends on the context and manner of utilization.

How do you choose whether to use employ or utilise?

It depends on the context; employ for broader use or hiring, utilise for efficient or strategic use.

Is utilise a common word in everyday language?

It's more common in formal or technical language.

Can someone be employed in a hobby?

Yes, in the sense of being engaged or occupied with a hobby.

Can a tool be employed?

Yes, tools can be employed in the sense of being used for a task.

Do employ and utilise have different origins?

Yes, "employ" comes from Old French and "utilise" from Latin, reflecting their slightly different meanings.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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