Meaning of USEFUL in English



1. useful

2. extremely useful

3. useful only in particular situations

4. the quality of being useful




see also



1. useful

▷ useful /ˈjuːsf ə l/ [adjective]

something that is useful makes it easier for you to do something :

▪ See page 35 for a list of useful addresses.

▪ The bank gave us a lot of useful advice about starting our own business.

useful for (doing) something

▪ Scotch tape is very useful for making quick repairs.

useful to

▪ information that may be useful to the enemy

useful in (doing) something

▪ This equipment will prove useful in testing premature babies who we suspect might have hearing problems.

▷ be of use /biː əv ˈjuːs/ [verb phrase] formal

to be useful :

▪ If there are items in the newspaper files which could be of use, please take a copy of them.

be of use to

▪ This book will be of use to all teachers.

be some/any use

▪ Would these computer cleaners be any use to you?

be of some use

be fairly useful

▪ The information is slightly out-of-date, but it could still be of some use.

▷ handy /ˈhændi/ [adjective] informal

useful and easy to use :

▪ This handy booklet tells you everything you need to know about getting connected to the Internet.

▪ a handy chart for converting pounds into kilos

handy for (doing) something

▪ There’s a special brush you can attach to the vacuum cleaner, which is handy for cleaning the stairs.

▷ practical /ˈpræktɪk ə l/ [adjective]

designed to be useful rather than attractive - use this especially about clothes and things you use in your house :

▪ The company specializes in making practical footwear for the leisure sports market.

▪ a type of floor covering that is simple, practical, and cheap

▷ be good for (doing) something /biː ˌgʊd fəʳ (ˈduːɪŋ) something/ [verb phrase] especially spoken

to be suitable and useful for a particular job or purpose :

▪ The table does take up a lot of space, but it’s good for parties.

▪ The big jars are good for storing pasta.

▷ helpful /ˈhelpf ə l/ [adjective]

something that is helpful is useful because it helps you to do something :

▪ I found these cassettes very helpful when I was learning Spanish.

▪ The Student Cook Book provides basic helpful advice without sounding patronising.

helpful in doing something

▪ The drug Prozac can be helpful in treating anxiety.

it is helpful to do something

▪ I think it would be helpful to summarize what we agreed at the last meeting.

▷ valuable /ˈvæljuəb ə l, -jɑb ə lǁˈvæljɑb ə l/ [adjective]

help, advice, knowledge etc that is valuable is very useful in helping you do something :

▪ Joyce gave us a lot of valuable advice when we first started the company.

valuable to

▪ Your knowledge and experience would be very valuable to us.

it is valuable for somebody to do something

▪ While it is valuable for children to have individual responsibilities, it is also good to share jobs with them.

valuable contribution

▪ Nuclear power makes a valuable contribution to the environment by curbing carbon dioxide emissions.

▷ be worth it /biː ˈwɜːʳθ ɪt/ [verb phrase]

use this to say that something you do has a useful result :

▪ I didn’t bother looking at the instructions -- I didn’t think it was worth it.

be worth doing/trying etc

used especially to suggest doing something

▪ It may be worth putting an advertisement in the local paper.

2. extremely useful

▷ invaluable /ɪnˈvæljuəb ə l, -jɑb ə lǁɪnˈvæljɑb ə l/ [adjective]

▪ This book has been invaluable as a source of teaching materials.

▪ Contact with Western medical techniques proved invaluable, and the student doctors have benefited greatly.

invaluable to

▪ Margaret’s sensible suggestions have been invaluable to us.

invaluable for/in doing something

▪ Improved sewage and water services were invaluable in preventing disease.

▷ indispensable /ˌɪndɪˈspensəb ə l/ [adjective]

someone or something that is indispensable is so useful and important that you cannot do something without them :

▪ For mountain-climbing a really good sleeping-bag is indispensable.

▪ She soon became an indispensable member of staff.

indispensable to

▪ A knowledge of classical music is indispensable to anyone who wants to apply for this job.

▷ can’t do/manage without /ˌkɑːnt duː, ˌmænɪdʒ wɪðˈɑʊtǁˌkænt-/ [verb phrase] spoken

use this about someone or something that is so useful that it would be very difficult to do something without them :

▪ Of course we all have concerns about the environment but you can’t do without a car out here in the countryside with no public transport.

▪ Top TV chef Billy Williams says he couldn’t manage without his food processor: ‘It cuts down preparation time by about half and saves you all those fiddly tasks.’

3. useful only in particular situations

▷ come in handy informal also come in useful British informal /ˌkʌm ɪn ˈhændi, ˌkʌm ɪn ˈjuːsf ə l/ [verb phrase]

something that comes in handy is not always necessary, but is good to have because it can be very useful in particular situations :

▪ My knowledge of Spanish came in handy when the car broke down near Madrid.

▪ Sometimes there are problems that are too big for you to sort out on your own. That’s when professional advice comes in useful.

come in handy for (doing) something

▪ A hacksaw always comes in handy for cutting plastic pipes.

come in handy as

▪ I suppose you thought I might come in useful as a translator.

▷ have its uses /ˌhæv ɪts ˈjuːsə̇z/ [verb phrase not in progressive] informal

use this to say that something is more useful than it seems :

▪ This typewriter may be old, but it has its uses.

▪ A knowledge of Latin can have its uses -- for instance, it can help you if you are learning Italian.

4. the quality of being useful

▷ usefulness /ˈjuːsf ə lnɪs, ˈjuːsf ə lnəs/ [uncountable noun]

▪ Statistics have some usefulness in the study of public health issues.

outlive its usefulness

not be useful any more

▪ We are beginning to think that this factory has outlived its usefulness as our main supplier.

▷ utility /juːˈtɪlɪti, juːˈtɪləti/ [uncountable noun] formal

how useful and effective something is :

▪ Demonstrations allow customers to get an immediate idea of a product’s utility.

▪ I have severe doubts about the utility of examinations on subjects which have been learned parrot-fashion.

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