prag·​mat·​ic prag-ˈma-tik How to pronounce pragmatic (audio)
variants or less commonly pragmatical
: relating to matters of fact or practical affairs often to the exclusion of intellectual or artistic matters : practical as opposed to idealistic
a pragmatic leader
a pragmatic [=practical] approach to health care
: relating to or being in accordance with philosophical pragmatism
: busy
pragmatic noun
pragmatically adverb

Did you know?

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

In their universe, romance is totally detached from pragmatic concerns and societal pressures … Lev Grossman, Time, 24 Jan. 2005
… 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
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
Recent Examples on the Web The results create a full-circle perspective of Hou as a designer: Equal parts romantic and pragmatic. Vogue, 6 Apr. 2024 That might mean being overly pragmatic over the next week and finding spots for Steph Curry to rest. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, 5 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for pragmatic 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pragmatic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

circa 1612, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of pragmatic was circa 1612

Dictionary Entries Near pragmatic

Cite this Entry

“Pragmatic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


prag·​mat·​ic prag-ˈmat-ik How to pronounce pragmatic (audio)
variants also pragmatical
: concerned with practical rather than intellectual or artistic matters
pragmatically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on pragmatic

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