ex·​pe·​di·​ent | \ ik-ˈspē-dē-ənt How to pronounce expedient (audio) \

Definition of expedient

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : suitable for achieving a particular end in a given circumstance
2 : characterized by concern with what is opportune especially : governed by self-interest


ex·​pe·​di·​ent | \ ik-ˈspē-dē-ənt How to pronounce expedient (audio) \

Definition of expedient (Entry 2 of 2)

: something done or used to achieve a particular end usually quickly or temporarily : an expedient action or solution

Other Words from expedient


expediently adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for expedient

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for expedient


expedient, politic, advisable mean dictated by practical or prudent motives. expedient usually implies what is immediately advantageous without regard for ethics or consistent principles. a politically expedient decision politic stresses judiciousness and tactical value but usually implies some lack of candor or sincerity. a politic show of interest advisable applies to what is practical, prudent, or advantageous but lacks the derogatory implication of expedient and politic. sometimes it's advisable to say nothing


resource, resort, expedient, shift, makeshift, stopgap mean something one turns to in the absence of the usual means or source of supply. resource and resort apply to anything one falls back upon. exhausted all of their resources a last resort expedient may apply to any device or contrivance used when the usual one is not at hand or not possible. a flimsy expedient shift implies a tentative or temporary imperfect expedient. desperate shifts to stave off foreclosure makeshift implies an inferior expedient adopted because of urgent need or allowed through indifference. old equipment employed as a makeshift stopgap applies to something used temporarily as an emergency measure. a new law intended only as a stopgap

Examples of expedient in a Sentence

Adjective Marley found it expedient to maintain social relationships with gunmen and politicans from both political parties. — Robert Palmer, Rolling Stone, 24 Feb. 1994 The marble floor … gave the hall the aspect of a cathedral, and the walls were decorated with aphorisms such as Cicero's THE WELFARE OF THE PEOPLE IS THE HIGHEST LAW, a phrase he found curiously—or at least potentially—expedient in what was certainly designed as a temple to the idea of law. — Tom Clancy, Patriot Games, 1987 Under political pressure and at the urging of Jefferson, Madison finally (but grudgingly) admitted that a bill of rights might help, over time, to instill in the people a greater respect for "the fundamental maxims of free government." But even as he was shepherding the first amendments through Congress, in 1789, he privately described them (amazingly enough) as a "nauseous project," required only for expedient reasons of politics. — Jack N. Rakove, Atlantic, December 1986 They found it expedient to negotiate with the terrorists. Do the right thing, not the expedient thing. Noun In 1882, racing to meet the deadline on Life on the Mississippi, he [Mark Twain] boasted to W. D. Howells that he had managed to churn out 9,500 words in a day, having resorted to the old hack's expedient of copying out large chunks from other people's books … — Jonathan Raban, Times Literary Supplement, 21–27 Sept. 1990 The Viet Cong taught the peasants to dig cave shelters under the sleeping platforms rural Vietnamese cover with mats of woven straw and use as beds. This expedient gave the peasants a handy shelter right inside the house, unless that house happened to be one of those set afire by the napalm or the white phosphorus, called Willy Peter in U.S. military idiom. — Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie, 1988 For government is an expedient, by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it. — Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience," 1849 For it is plain that every word we speak is in some degree a diminution of our lungs by corrosion, and consequently contributes to the shortening of our lives. An expedient was therefore offered, that since words are only names for things, it would be more convenient for all men to carry about them such things as were necessary to express the particular business they are to discourse on. — Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, 1726 The government chose short-term expedients instead of a real economic policy. We can solve this problem by the simple expedient of taking out another loan. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The letter says the process will be conducted in a manner that is both expedient and respectful of all involved while maintaining the standards of the Academy. Chloe Melas, CNN, 30 Mar. 2022 In this region, burying the past has always been politically expedient, as has been digging it out and manipulating it as convenient. Cristina Florea, CNN, 4 Apr. 2022 Please trust that the Board of Governors will conduct this process in a manner that is both expedient and respectful of all involved while maintaining the standards of the Academy. J. Kim Murphy, Variety, 29 Mar. 2022 Please trust that the Board of Governors will conduct this process in a manner that is both expedient and respectful of all involved while maintaining the standards of the Academy. Trilby Beresford, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Mar. 2022 Those activists argue that adding more police is a politically expedient move that doesn’t help reduce violence. Washington Post, 4 Apr. 2022 McCarten builds upon the incident, via an all-too-expedient appearance by an ex-girlfriend (Sofia Barclay), to energize the men’s growing symbiosis. David Benedict, Variety, 25 Feb. 2022 Ozark Regional Transit will begin on-demand service in Bentonville and parts of Fayetteville on Tuesday as part of an effort to provide more convenient and expedient public transportation. Nwa Democrat-gazette, Arkansas Online, 19 Feb. 2022 All the while, one got the nagging sense that Cherry—unlike more modern populists who posture as spokespeople for some silent majority because doing so is politically expedient—wasn’t faking it. John Semley, Harper’s Magazine , 7 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The route through the Icefall varies from year to year, as the Icefall Doctors seek to find a way through the Icefall's many crevasses and seracs that is both safe (relatively speaking) and expedient. Jonah Ogles, Outside Online, 6 Apr. 2015 His administration has alternated between turning the page on the pandemic or retaining COVID protocols (like the transit mask mandate or the pause on student loan repayment) when politically expedient. W. James Antle Iii, The Week, 14 Apr. 2022 For generations, everyone from UC students to street vendors have enjoyed the expedient high that comes from bong hits. Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 Mar. 2022 Since political orientation is strongly correlated with perspective on trans acceptance, trans youth have become an expedient vehicle for showcasing one’s conservatism. Kristina R. Olson, Scientific American, 29 Mar. 2022 Quite obviously, the expedient action on both governors’ parts would have been to wave these bills through. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 24 Mar. 2022 Outsourcing theology and religious law to the big beards was both an expedient and a necessity, because no ruler had any training in religious law, or indeed a beard of any significant size. Graeme Wood, The Atlantic, 3 Mar. 2022 The most expedient vehicle was the charge of theft. Washington Post, 25 Feb. 2022 Nearly two years ago, the House decided to allow members to vote remotely by proxy, presenting the measure as a temporary expedient to deal with the COVID-19 emergency. Los Angeles Times, 18 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'expedient.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of expedient


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1630, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for expedient

Adjective and Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin expedient-, expendiens, present participle of expedire to extricate, prepare, be useful, from ex- + ped-, pes foot — more at foot

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Time Traveler for expedient

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The first known use of expedient was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

9 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Expedient.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expedient. Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for expedient


ex·​pe·​di·​ent | \ ik-ˈspē-dē-ənt How to pronounce expedient (audio) \

Kids Definition of expedient

: providing a quick and easy way to accomplish something an expedient solution

Other Words from expedient

expediently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on expedient

Nglish: Translation of expedient for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of expedient for Arabic Speakers


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