For a given task, like digging a hole, many things are "useful". The set of all "useful" things contains, among other things "spoon", "pencil", "saucepan lid", "shovel", etc. There is a subset of this first list that contains "particularly useful" things like "shovel", "hoe", etc. Is there a single word adjective for "particularly useful".

Examples of how the word "x" might be used

  • "For the purpose of our investigation, these data points are x"
    • A note on this one: This is actually very close to the sentence that brought me to post this question. I don't want to convey that the other data points are not useful. Neither do I want to convey that without these data points, I can't get the job done.
  • "A shovel would be x for digging that hole"

PS, I am not looking for "vital", "critical", "indispensable", "invaluable", because those all are stronger than what I'm looking for (they mean "so useful that one can't do without it", not what I'm looking for).

  • I have not answered the question because:- (a) the answer is available by using a decent dictionary or Etymonline. But also, this is taken from a translation into very stilted English (even for its time) of a fragment of a lost play of Euripides, collected, probably, by a scholastic drudge compiling a collection of proverbs. However, a look at a good dictionary will give the answer. The Etymonline is also worth a look: it gives the germanic origins of the word 'wont'.
    – Tuffy
    Dec 21, 2021 at 19:30
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Dec 21, 2021 at 19:38

5 Answers 5


apt, most apt, most relevant, perfect, ideal

also: best


"A shovel would be most apt / perfect / best for digging that hole."

"For the purpose of our investigation, these data points are ideal / most relevant."

These are all common words so I will leave the reader to check the definitions if needed.

But note, this question is borderline off topic.

  • I believe the question is not about finding a word for "most useful" or "best" option. It is about something (or a group of things) that is more useful than other things or a particularly useful for a purpose. Shovel can be the best option for the given example but that is not the point of the question.
    – ermanen
    Dec 21, 2021 at 18:06
  • I think @0.. is right here. But I feel kind of bad because this question has gotten away from me. Another user posted a comment with the "right" answer for me: " You might need different words for the two examples. Data points and other concepts such as 'ideas' can be considered pertinent a term that fits more awkardly with shovels, especially if followed by "for"." Dec 21, 2021 at 19:47

For the purpose of our investigation, these data points are valuable.

A shovel would be valuable for digging that hole.

If you can't do without something, it is invaluable. If you lose a valuable source or item, however, you may still be able to complete your task.

valuable (adj.)

Of great use or service

valuable advice m-w

If you describe something or someone as valuable, you mean that they are very useful and helpful.

Many of our teachers also have valuable academic links with Heidelberg University. Collins

Of great use or value to a person or for a purpose. OED

This changed the interpretation of data; ethically the research took the changes made and as a researcher there was a feeling that some valuable data was lost. However, according to Tappan (2001) validity and truth of claims from this perspective was established through agreement, rather than empirical tests:... Maina WaGíokò; Transfer of Education Leadership Training Skills (2016)

  • Top contender so far. It's still true that a pencil is valuable for digging a hole in that it has non-zero value, but to me at least, it somehow still feels stronger than "useful". Dec 20, 2021 at 21:33
  • Definitions of valuable have intensifiers like very helpful or of great use. A spoon may have value or use for creating a hole in flower pot, but a farmer wouldn't call it valuable for the "back forty." A spoon, however, is a valuable eating utensil. I took your list of tools and implements at face value: a spoon for eating and a shovel for digging.
    – DjinTonic
    Dec 20, 2021 at 21:42

Advantageous works in some cases:

Your Dictionary


The adjective advantageous is useful for talking about things that are beneficial, or helpful, like when you find an advantageous spot to hang your yard sale sign — a spot where all the passing cars can see it.

Or you might like pivotal



important because other things depend on it

This is not so strong as crucial, essential and the others you list. Something important is not necessarily essential. In one meaning:



having great effect or influence


"Nifty" - it is an informal word that means "particularly good, skilful, or effective."

  • Good answer, but looking for formal. Dec 20, 2021 at 21:31

Better and preferable are a good fit, especially if there are other options or if you are comparing different things. These words imply that the things are more useful/effective than other options or particularly useful for a purpose. The question is not about finding a word for the most useful or best option.

Based on the OP's example:

If there are a spoon, a pencil, a lid and a shovel:

A shovel would be better/preferable for digging that hole.

If there are a spoon, a pencil, a lid, a shovel and a hoe:

A shovel and a hoe would be better/preferable for digging that hole.

better: More desirable, satisfactory, or effective.
preferable: More desirable or suitable.

If there isn't an apparent comparison, suitable is a good choice.

Right or appropriate for a particular person, purpose, or situation.

  • 1
    I haven't bothered answering, but suitable was my top choice. The main attribute that makes a hoe more "particularly useful" than a spoon to a certain purpose is that it is suited to that purpose. Dec 21, 2021 at 4:03
  • @AndyBonner Exactly. I couldn't have worded better. There is also the comparison nature of the question so I've offered the words "better" and "preferable". However, "suitable" can be used in any context for this meaning.
    – ermanen
    Dec 21, 2021 at 18:55

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