Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

use - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb     use pronunciation in American English
Word Forms
present tense
present participleusing
past tenseused
past participleused
  1. 1
    [transitive] to do something using a machine, tool, skill, method, etc. in order to do a job or to achieve a result

    Using a computer is so much quicker.

    What type of soap do you use?

    Using all his charm, he managed to persuade them.

    use something for something:

    Psychological tests are used for selection purposes.

    use something for doing something:

    Methane gas is used for heating and generating power.

    use something as something:

    I had to use a ski as a tent pole.

    use something as an excuse/reason:

    They used the recession as an excuse to get rid of workers.

  2. 2
    [transitive] to get a benefit for yourself from something that is available to you

    Only about 30 people regularly use the bus service.

  3. 3
    [transitive] to take an amount from a supply of something in order to do a job or to achieve a result

    You’ve used all the hot water again.

    Most of that paint was used on the kitchen.

  4. 4
    [transitive] to treat someone in an unfair way, for example by pretending to care about them so that they do what you want

    You know he’s just using you.

    use someone for your own ends (=to get what you want):

    Liz has always used people for her own ends.

  5. 5
    [intransitive/transitive] to take illegal drugs regularly

    In jail, he continued to deal and use drugs.

  6. 6
    [transitive] to say or write particular words

    Don’t use language like that in front of your little brother.

    use something to do something:

    McClaren used the same words to describe his feelings.

  7. 7
    [transitive] if you use a particular name, you call yourself by a different name from your usual one

phrasal verbs

  • Facebook
  • Twitter


to manipulate someone psychologically so that they begin to question their own perceptions and memories

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play