To "use" or "utilize" / That is the question
My professor in my sophomore Intro to Lit course was a great believer in cutting out wordiness and over-blown language. While I am still prone to wordiness and abuses of language, one lesson rooted itself so firmly in my brain that it has become a personal foible: I cringe in near-pain when I hear people use (!) longer words when a shorter, plainer word would do. Don't get me wrong; I love language. There are people who can use long, possibly pretentious language, and make it beautiful. But I really don't like the word "utilize" in place of "use." There are appropriate times for "utilize;" I really like this summary from Dictionary.com in it's definition of "utilize":
Usage Note: A number of critics have remarked that utilize is an unnecessary substitute for use. It is true that many occurrences of utilize could be replaced by use with no loss to anything but pretentiousness, for example, in sentences such as 'They utilized questionable methods in their analysis' or 'We hope that many commuters will continue to utilize mass transit after the bridge has reopened.' But utilize can mean 'to find a profitable or practical use for.' Thus the sentence 'The teachers were unable to use the new computers' might mean only that the teachers were unable to operate the computers, whereas 'The teachers were unable to utilize the new computers' suggests that the teachers could not find ways to employ the computers in instruction.
I have similar objections to the word "colorway," as I have mentioned before. A friend refered me to a definition from wikipedia (I don't know exactly where):
"In visual arts, colorway or colourway is the scheme of two or more colors in which a design is available.
Colorway is describing the set of colors. A tweed that is basically blue with flecks of green and purple is a different colorway than a tweed that is basically blue with flecks of gold and orange. But they are both generally the same color."
The word does show up in this discussion of color in the "Yarn" entry:
"Yarn may be used undyed, or may be colored with natural or artificial dyes. Most yarns have a single uniform hue, but there is also a wide selection of variegated yarns:
- heathered or tweed: yarn with flecks of different colored fiber
- ombre: variegated yarn with light and dark shades of a single hue
- multi-colored: variegated yarn with two or more distinct hues (a "parrot colorway" might have green, yellow and red)
- self-striping: yarn dyed with lengths of color that will automatically create stripes in a knitted or crocheted object
- marled: yarn made from strands of different-colored yarn twisted together, sometimes in closely-related hues"
but I still don't like it, I still think it's pretentious, and I still think using existing words like "multi-colored" or even just "color" works just fine.