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Related to usefulness: deteriorating, coy, inadvertently, lingering


1. Having a beneficial use; serviceable: a useful kitchen gadget.
2. Being of practical use: a useful job; useful members of society.

use′ful·ly adv.
use′ful·ness n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.




  1. As much use as a life preserver to a duck —Anon
  2. Effective as a bullet —Edgar Saltus
  3. Effective as an umbrella in a hurricane —Anon
  4. Effective as bailing out a boat with a sieve —Anon
  5. Effective as chicken soup. It can’t hurt —Anon
  6. Effective as dousing a fire with a dixie cup full of water —Anon
  7. Effective as fixing a broken leg with a bandaid —Anon
  8. Feel like an old clerk on a high stool —Wilfrid Sheed
  9. Handy as a pocket in a shirt —Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms
  10. Helpful as a bathing suit in a blizzard —Ed McBain
  11. (The information was probably as) helpful as a wooden compass —William Mcllvanney
  12. Helpful as throwing a drowning man both ends of a rope —Arthur Baer
  13. Ineffective as breaking into a bank vault and taking a bag of pennies —Anon
  14. Ineffective like putting the steak on the fire and the skillet on top of the steak —Norman Mailer
  15. Ineffective, like sending flies in pursuit of fly paper —Elliot Janeway, Barron’s, January 20, 1986
  16. (Lonely and) ineffectual as two left-handed gloves —Helen Rowland
  17. Ineffectually as a firefly in Hell —Stephen Vincent Benet
  18. It [Medicare’s health-care coverage] is like walking around in a bulletproof vest with a hole over the heart —Senator John Heinz, Wall Street Journal, October 15, 1986
  19. It’s [everything valued by others] like so much fluff —Anton Chekhov
  20. A lot of useless barging around, like a man with his sleeve in a thresher —Richard Ford
  21. Making lists is like taking too many notes at school; you feel you’ve achieved something when you haven’t —Dodie Smith
  22. Pointless … like you’d give caviar to an elephant —William Faulkner
  23. (Educating you would be about as) redundant as teaching a lion to like red meat —line from movie Victor-Victoria, spoken by Julie Andrews
  24. Sending a teacher into a classroom with no cane is like sending a boxer into the ring with one hand tied behind his back —Philip Squire
  25. Some men are like a clock on a roof … useful only to the neighbors —Austin O’Malley
  26. Some people are like wheelbarrows, only useful when pushed, and very easily upset —Jack Hebert
  27. Unhelpful … like someone running round with black-currant lozenges to the victims of an earthquake —Josephine Tey
  28. Unnecessary as another designer label —Anon
  29. Useful as a bale of hay in a garage —Anon
  30. Useful as a bicyle without tires —Anon
  31. Useful as a buttonhole without buttons —Anon
  32. Useful as a comb to a bald man —Anon
  33. Useful as a defective parachute —Anon
  34. Useful as an annuity —Anon
  35. Useful as an umbrella to a fish —Anon
  36. Useful as a pocket with a big hole in it —Anon
  37. Useful as a sixth finger —Anon
  38. Useful as a Swiss army knife —Anon
  39. Useful as a thermometer or a scale without markings —Anon
  40. Useful as a third nostril —Peter Benchley
  41. Useful as hayfever when the pollen count is high —Mike Fredman
  42. Useful as information trying to convey the locality and intentions of a cloud —Joseph Conrad
  43. Useful as teats on a boar hog —American colloquialism
  44. Useful as the marketable skill mom told you to acquire —Anon
  45. Useless as a bell that doesn’t ring —Anon
  46. Useless as putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound —Anon
  47. Useless as a broken feather —Anon
  48. Useless as a bump on a log —Anon

    A variation on this familiar simile from The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley: “Stood around like a knot on a log.”

  49. Useless as a car without gasoline —Anon
  50. Useless as a glass eye at a keyhole —Louis Monta Bell
  51. Useless … as a half-built bridge —William H. Hallhan
  52. Useless as an expectant lover —Ellen Glasgow
  53. Useless as a single glove —Anon
  54. Useless as a torn sock —Marianne Hauser
  55. Useless as a twisted arm —Desmond O’Grady
  56. Useless as Ronald Reagan’s right ear —Joseph Wambaugh
  57. Useless … like buying an air conditioner for a building without electricity —Anon
  58. Useless … like the cow that gives a good pail of milk, and then kicks it over —H. G. Bohn’s Handbook of Proverbs
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.usefulness - the quality of being of practical useusefulness - the quality of being of practical use
quality - an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone; "the quality of mercy is not strained"--Shakespeare
detergence, detergency - detergent quality; the quality of having cleansing power
function, purpose, use, role - what something is used for; "the function of an auger is to bore holes"; "ballet is beautiful but what use is it?"
helpfulness - the property of providing useful assistance
use - a particular service; "he put his knowledge to good use"; "patrons have their uses"
serviceability, serviceableness, usability, usableness, useableness - the quality of being able to provide good service
instrumentality - the quality of being instrumental for some purpose
practicality - concerned with actual use rather than theoretical possibilities
practicability, practicableness - the quality of being usable
inutility, unusefulness, uselessness - the quality of having no practical use
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


noun helpfulness, value, worth, use, help, service, benefit, profit, utility, effectiveness, convenience, practicality, efficacy His interest lay in the usefulness of his work.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


The quality of being suitable or adaptable to an end:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
نَفْع ، إفادَه


[ˈjuːsfʊlnɪs] Nutilidad f
it has outlived its usefulnessha dejado de tener utilidad
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈjuːsfʊlnɪs] nutilité f
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nNützlichkeit f; (of person, contribution also)Wert m (of discussion)Fruchtbarkeit f ? outlive
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈjuːsfʊlnɪs] nutilità
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(juːs) noun
1. the act of using or state of being used. The use of force to persuade workers to join a strike cannot be justified; This telephone number is for use in emergencies.
2. the/a purpose for which something may be used. This little knife has plenty of uses; I have no further use for these clothes.
3. (often in questions or with negatives) value or advantage. Is this coat (of) any use to you?; It's no use offering to help when it's too late.
4. the power of using. She lost the use of her right arm as a result of the accident.
5. permission, or the right, to use. They let us have the use of their car while they were away.
ˈuseful adjective
helpful or serving a purpose well. a useful tool/dictionary; She made herself useful by doing the washing for her mother.
ˈusefulness noun
ˈusefully adverb
in a useful way. He spent the day usefully in repairing the car.
ˈuseless adjective
having no use or no effect. Why don't you throw away those useless things?; We can't do it – it's useless to try.
be in use, be out of use
to be used or not used. How long has the gymnasium been in use / out of use?
come in useful
to become useful. My French came in useful on holiday.
have no use for
to despise. I have no use for such silliness / silly people.
it's no use
it's impossible or useless. He tried in vain to do it, then said `It's no use.'
make (good) use of, put to (good) use
He makes use of his training; He puts his training to good use in that job.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
Here were a phial of some salt, and the record of a series of experiments that had led (like too many of Jekyll's investigations) to no end of practical usefulness. How could the presence of these articles in my house affect either the honour, the sanity, or the life of my flighty colleague?
That seemed to be my only chance of usefulness in life.
He narrated that episode so persistently and with so important an air that everyone believed in the merit and usefulness of his deed, and he had obtained two decorations for Austerlitz.
Her usefulness to little Charles would always give some sweetness to the memory of her two months' visit there, but he was gaining strength apace, and she had nothing else to stay for.
He simply ignored the exposure, and the comments of the other city papers, and in the process of time he easily lived down the memory of it and went on to greater usefulness in his profession.
A fitting end, this, to a life of usefulness and crime - in a last outburst of an evil passion supremely satisfied on some wild night, perhaps, to the applauding clamour of wind and wave.
To all this I joyously assented; for besides the affection I now felt for Queequeg, he was an experienced harpooneer, and as such, could not fail to be of great usefulness to one, who, like me, was wholly ignorant of the mysteries of whaling, though well acquainted with the sea, as known to merchant seamen.
To Konstantin Levin the country was good first because it afforded a field for labor, of the usefulness of which there could be no doubt.
This was a two-story log house which had acquired the reputation a few years ago of being haunted, and that was the end of its usefulness. Nobody would live in it afterward, or go near it by night, and most people even gave it a wide berth in the daytime.
And when Jarvis Lorry saw the kindled eyes, the resolute face, the calm strong look and bearing of the man whose life always seemed to him to have been stopped, like a clock, for so many years, and then set going again with an energy which had lain dormant during the cessation of its usefulness, he believed.
Indeed, being much bruised and rather rickety, owing to the violent treatment it had suffered from the Hutchinson mob, most people would have thought that its days of usefulness were over.
She had great pleasure in feeling her usefulness, but could not conceive how they would have managed without her.