pragmatic

adjective
prag·​mat·​ic | \ prag-ˈma-tik How to pronounce pragmatic (audio) \
variants: or less commonly pragmatical \ prag-​ˈma-​ti-​kəl How to pronounce pragmatical (audio) \

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

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Other Words from pragmatic

pragmatic noun
pragmatically \ prag-​ˈma-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce pragmatically (audio) \ 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

The Queen was quite pragmatic about her children's clothes, as well. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "Inside the Archive That Houses 500 Years of Royal Family Fashion," 17 Feb. 2019 Oregon has an opportunity to take the lead in a sensible and pragmatic manner that would capitalize on known, workable in-state programs. The Washington Post, OregonLive.com, "House Speaker Paul Ryan will not seek reelection, he tells friends and colleagues," 11 Apr. 2018 Business confidence rose to its highest level since October 2015 last month amid expectation that the new leadership will implement more pragmatic and predictable policies, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Tuesday. Paul Vecchiatto, Bloomberg.com, "Zuma Exit Appears Step Closer as ANC Holds Transition Talks," 7 Feb. 2018 The teams addressed mobility, housing, public health, resource conservation and scarcity, capitalism, sustainability in designs that spanned from the ultra-conceptual to the pragmatic. Diana Budds, Curbed, "4 lessons Mexican designers can teach the world," 19 Oct. 2018 Cuomo was more of a middle-of-the-road pragmatic candidate before having to face off against Nixon. Christianna Silva, Teen Vogue, "Cynthia Nixon May Have Lost to Andrew Cuomo in New York's Primary, But the Push Left Lives On," 14 Sep. 2018 At work, her pragmatic approach to managing a racist school administrator backfired when her idealistic boss called into question her motives and judgment. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "How Insecure Gets Political While Ignoring Trump," 10 Aug. 2018 The liberal justice who stands in clearest opposition to this pragmatic approach is Sonia Sotomayor. Jeffrey Rosen, WSJ, "What We Learn from Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings," 13 July 2018 And indeed, with his new endeavor, Sternberg owns all the inventory, which informs his overall pragmatic approach. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "Scott Sternberg Calls On Spike Jonze and Jason Schwartzman to Spread the Word About His New Brand Entireworld," 19 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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Last Updated

25 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for pragmatic

The first known use of pragmatic was circa 1612

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More Definitions for pragmatic

pragmatic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of pragmatic

formal : 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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