prag·mat·ic | \ prag-ˈma-tik \
variants: or less commonly pragmatical \prag-ˈma-ti-kəl \

Definition of pragmatic 

1 : relating to matters of fact or practical affairs often to the exclusion of intellectual or artistic matters : practical as opposed to idealistic pragmatic men of power have had no time or inclination to deal with … social morality —K. B. Clark

2 : relating to or being in accordance with philosophical pragmatism

3 archaic

a(1) : busy

(2) : officious

b : opinionated

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Other words from pragmatic

pragmatic noun
pragmatically \prag-ˈma-ti-k(ə-)lē \ adverb

Are you pragmatic?

The word pragmatic has been busy over its more than four centuries of use. Its earliest meanings were "busy," "meddlesome," and "opinionated," but those are now considered archaic uses. The word continues, as it has since the late 19th century, to be used in reference to the philosophical movement of pragmatism (see sense 2). And, as Merriam-Webster Unabridged reports, it also continues to be used in the field of history to describe that which deals with historical events in a way that shows their interconnection. Most often, however, we encounter pragmatic when it is being used to describe people—sometimes ourselves.

So what does it mean for a person to be pragmatic? A person who is pragmatic is concerned more with matters of fact than with what could or should be. A pragmatic person's realm is results and consequences. If that's where your focus is, you may want to apply the word to yourself.

Examples of pragmatic in a Sentence

… their pragmatic successors like Benjamin Franklin were concerned with lightning's … power but not its thrilling scenic value. —John Updike, New York Review of Books, 15 Aug. 2002 … NASA has two coexisting personae with vastly distinct characters: the somewhat romantically motivated manned space program, and the rather more pragmatic unmanned program. —David H. Freedman, Discover, July 1994 pragmatic enough to have held on to their day jobs for years after they were putting out records. —Chris Mundy, Rolling Stone, 16 Sept. 1993 … and her mysticism never failed to exasperate her pragmatic, mountain-climbing daughter. —Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses, 1989 His pragmatic view of public education comes from years of working in city schools. a pragmatic man, not given to grand, visionary schemes
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Recent Examples on the Web

In reality, Lopez Obrador is more pragmatic than the more hardcore ideologues. Kate Linthicum,, "Rocky under Trump, U.S.-Mexico relations will be tested under new president Lopez Obrador," 3 July 2018 After the Scopes trial, Oregon leaders, ever pragmatic, changed their strategy to campaign to have creationism taught alongside evolution. Longreads, "Oregon’s Racist Past," 12 July 2018 The boat is an essential part of Headley’s highly pragmatic ethos, and provides a constraint: any side dish needs to be ample enough to fill it, without costing more than ten dollars. Marian Bull, GQ, "The Superiority Burger Cookbook Has the Secret to the Best Mushrooms You'll Ever Eat," 7 June 2018 And though relationships often run aground on historical and territorial disputes, the Asian trio are finding more reasons to be pragmatic, irrespective of North Korea. The Economist, "Japan, China and South Korea get together," 10 May 2018 The deal split hardline and more pragmatic Brexiteers. The Economist, "Politics this week," 12 July 2018 Jason is much more pragmatic but brings so much charisma and passion to our relationship. Becca Kufrin,, "Bachelorette Becca Kufrin Explains Her Reaction to Colton Being a Virgin: ' I Needed a Moment'," 11 July 2018 For all his oratorical bluster, Migration Policy Institute president Andrew Selee writes at Foreign Policy, López Obrador is really more pragmatic than ideological. Jonah Shepp, Daily Intelligencer, "AMLO Isn’t Mexico’s Trump – Nor Is He Trump’s Natural Enemy," 5 July 2018 Moreover, López Obrador is emerging as much more pragmatic, reaching out to prominent businesspeople to join his cabinet and politicians to come into his camp. Whitney Eulich, The Christian Science Monitor, "Mexico's man of the people – with an ego," 29 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of pragmatic

circa 1612, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for pragmatic

Latin pragmaticus skilled in law or business, from Greek pragmatikos, from pragmat-, pragma deed, from prassein to do — more at practical

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Statistics for pragmatic

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for pragmatic

The first known use of pragmatic was circa 1612

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English Language Learners Definition of pragmatic

: dealing with the problems that exist in a specific situation in a reasonable and logical way instead of depending on ideas and theories

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