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make (oneself) useful

To do something that is actively helpful or of assistance to others. You know, instead of just sitting there watching TV, you could make yourself useful and take out the garbage. Towards the end of the party, I decided to make myself useful and wash the dishes.
See also: make, useful

come in useful

To be especially helpful, often in a particular setting or situation. It was a lot colder out than I thought it would be, so your jacket really came in useful! That flashlight comes in useful when I'm trying to find something in my car at night.
See also: come, useful

come in useful

to be useful. Your report has come in useful a number of times.
See also: come, useful
References in classic literature ?
She works so beautifully, and it is a useful thing, you know, and I ought to be a good needlewoman as well as housekeeper, oughtn't I?
SOCRATES: And in supposing that they will be useful only if they are true guides to us of action--there we were also right?
SOCRATES: Then right opinion is not less useful than knowledge?
SOCRATES: Then right opinion is not a whit inferior to knowledge, or less useful in action; nor is the man who has right opinion inferior to him who has knowledge?
Because we might have filled the projectile with useful objects, books, instruments, tools, etc.
It is not that these countries, so rich in species, do not by a strange chance possess the aboriginal stocks of any useful plants, but that the native plants have not been improved by continued selection up to a standard of perfection comparable with that given to the plants in countries anciently civilised.
But as variations manifestly useful or pleasing to man appear only occasionally, the chance of their appearance will be much increased by a large number of individuals being kept; and hence this comes to be of the highest importance to success.
That is to say, justice is useful when money is useless?
And when you want to keep a pruning-hook safe, then justice is useful to the individual and to the state; but when you want to use it, then the art of the vine-dresser?
And so of all the other things;--justice is useful when they are useless, and useless when they are useful?
It was originally a useful art, a mode of writing, a savage's record of gratitude or devotion, and among a people possessed of a wonderful perception of form this childish carving was refined to the utmost splendor of effect.
Art makes the same effort which a sensual prosperity makes; namely to detach the beautiful from the useful, to do up the work as unavoidable, and, hating it, pass on to enjoyment.
I now began to consider that I might yet get a great many things out of the ship which would be useful to me, and particularly some of the rigging and sails, and such other things as might come to land; and I resolved to make another voyage on board the vessel, if possible.
I got on board the ship as before, and prepared a second raft; and, having had experience of the first, I neither made this so unwieldy, nor loaded it so hard, but yet I brought away several things very useful to me; as first, in the carpenters stores I found two or three bags full of nails and spikes, a great screw- jack, a dozen or two of hatchets, and, above all, that most useful thing called a grindstone.
That is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practise it much.