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

Commissioner could be a nice next step for the former Norwood councilwoman, a pragmatic and policy-focused politician who's respected by the establishment and far left factions in her party. Jason Williams, Cincinnati.com, "PX column: As 2020 approaches, popular Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune's political future in limbo," 11 July 2019 There are, moreover, strong pragmatic and tactical advantages to embracing the ESOP economy in waiting. John Case, The New Republic, "An Economy in Waiting," 8 July 2019 Conservatism is pragmatic, but the new right is zealous, ideological and cavalier with the truth. The Economist, "The global crisis in conservatism," 4 July 2019 Yet, despite getting his players to buy into his preferred style, Van Gaal also believes the Reds' manager has learned to adapt his methods to be pragmatic. SI.com, "Ex-Man Utd Boss Louis van Gaal Names Liverpool Star as Ultimate Team Player Over Lionel Messi," 25 June 2019 The Blair Doctrine is surely worth a second look as a pragmatic and ethical alternative to the disappointments of R2P. Janine Di Giovanni, The New York Review of Books, "Sierra Leone, 2000: A Case History in Successful Interventionism," 7 June 2019 Then again, that wasn’t our takeaway from the 2018 midterms, when the winners in the purple/red districts and states tended to be those from the pragmatic wing of the party. NBC News, "What to watch for at tonight's second debate," 27 June 2019 Bennet — like Colorado’s other presidential candidate, former Gov. John Hickenlooper — likes to describe himself as pragmatic. Nic Garcia, The Denver Post, "Who is Michael Bennet, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate?," 27 June 2019 The remark—a little bit corporate, a little bit profound—brought home for me the pragmatic, post-ideological bent of his politics. Lauren Collins, The New Yorker, "Can Emmanuel Macron Stem the Populist Tide?," 24 June 2019

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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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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Comments on pragmatic

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appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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