Definition of pragmatic
- pragmatic men of power have had no time or inclination to deal with … social morality
- —K. B. Clark
His pragmatic view of public education comes from years of working in city schools.
a pragmatic man, not given to grand, visionary schemes
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.
: dealing with the problems that exist in a specific situation in a reasonable and logical way instead of depending on ideas and theories
What made you want to look up pragmatic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!
Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?TAKE THE QUIZ
Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.TAKE THE QUIZ