[yoo-sij, -zij] Show IPA
Main Entry: us·age
Pronunciation: 'yü-sij, -zij
: an habitual or uniform practice esp. in an area or trade —compareCUSTOM
[v. yooz or, for past tense form of 9, yoost; n. yoos] Show IPAverb, used, us·ing, noun
September 26, 2001
Bob Hemus wrote:
The nouns usage and use are related in origin and overlap to some extent in their definitions.
Usage generally refers to �a habit, habitual use, established practice, or custom’: “Laws,..corrected, altered, and amended by acts of parliament and common usage” (Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1768). And usage has a more specialized meaning when it refers to �the customary manner in which a language or form of a language is spoken or written’. Random House Webster’s dictionaries record new usages and give clear guidance on many usage issues. (However, we can talk about language use as distinct from language usage: A dictionary illustrates the correct use of words, shows new uses of existing words, and records when a word first came into use.)
Use generally means �the act of using something, or the fact of being used’: “the use of testimony in court.” It can also mean �a way of using or of being used’, or �a purpose for which something is used’: “He showed us the proper use of the tool; The tool has many different uses.” The word use also has the specific sense of �a distinctive form of religious ritual or liturgical observance’: “the use of the Catholic Church; ecclesiastical uses.”
Sometimes use is substituted for usage in the meaning of �a habit or custom; established practice’: “Long use and experience hath found out many things commodious for man’s life” (Sir Thomas More, Utopia).
More often, usage is substituted for use, probably because it sounds more impressive. In these cases it commonly means �a way of using or being used’: “The packages were damaged because of rough usage during transit.” But it can also mean �the act of using or fact of being used’. Here’s an example from Tennyson’s Ancient Sage: “Nor thou be rageful, like a handled bee, And lose thy life by usage of thy sting.” Wilson Follett, teacher, writer, and editor, had this opinion in the 1960’s: “Substituting �usage’ for �use’ when the meaning is usefulness, wear, or employment shows the speaker’s dubious liking for unnecessary syllables. Phrases like �a graph of subway usage’ and �a course in computer usage’ are stately to no purpose.” Despite Follett’s opinion, this use ofusage has become accepted usage through long and continued use!