prag·​ma·​tism | \ ˈprag-mə-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce pragmatism (audio) \

Definition of pragmatism

1 : a practical approach to problems and affairs tried to strike a balance between principles and pragmatism
2 : an American movement in philosophy founded by C. S. Peirce and William James and marked by the doctrines that the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief

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Other Words from pragmatism

pragmatist \ ˈprag-​mə-​tist How to pronounce pragmatist (audio) \ adjective or noun
pragmatistic \ ˌprag-​mə-​ˈti-​stik How to pronounce pragmatistic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of pragmatism in a Sentence

To put it rather more crudely, he is trying to sell his integrationist and reformist agenda using traditionalist legal wrappings. It is, of course, this pragmatism, which sometimes comes across as slippery casuistry, that so annoys his critics. — Malise Ruthven, New York Review of Books, 16 Aug. 2007 These are books without slogans, manuals that favor subtlety over simplicity, moderation over bombast, pragmatism over ideology. — Jonathan Tepperman, New York Times Book Review, 16 Oct 2005 … compromise (or better yet, its spirit) symbolizes the necessary pragmatism expected of politics in a pluralist society. — Jack N. Rakove, Original Meanings … , 1996 The right person for the job will balance vision with pragmatism.
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Recent Examples on the Web But the cheery hippie pragmatism of hacker culture always coexisted with an underlying anxiety about the ultimate purpose of the new machines. Kim Phillips-fein, The New Republic, "The Failed Political Promise of Silicon Valley," 27 Sep. 2019 The country is not a graduate program, and such pragmatism should surprise no one who interacts with men and women outside of academia and social media, especially ethnic minorities. Thomas Chatterton Williams, Harper's magazine, "An Incoherent Truth," 20 Jan. 2020 So this is about pragmatism versus inspirational, aspirational stuff. NBC News, "Meet the Press - September 15, 2019," 15 Sep. 2019 Eventually, pragmatism takes over; life goes on in a low, comfortable wedge. Susan Dominus, New York Times, "Hope and High Drama: A Year With Two New Democratic Congresswomen," 18 Nov. 2019 This year saw the deaths of people who shifted culture through prose, pragmatism and persistence. Bernard Mcghee, Twin Cities, "Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2019," 29 Dec. 2019 This year saw the deaths of people who shifted culture through prose, pragmatism and persistence. Washington Post, "Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2019," 27 Dec. 2019 Analysts of separatism believe prison has persuaded Mr Junqueras to abandon the unilateral strategy of 2017 for the kind of pragmatism practised by the Scottish National Party. The Economist, "Why Pedro Sánchez needs an agreement with Catalan separatists," 12 Dec. 2019 The centrism and pragmatism that gave Tony Blair's Labour Party a decade in power appears to be gone. Luke Mcgee, CNN, "Jeremy Corbyn was once a radical outsider. Now he has the chance to transform the UK," 28 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pragmatism.' 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 pragmatism

circa 1864, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pragmatism

see pragmatic

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Time Traveler for pragmatism

Time Traveler

The first known use of pragmatism was circa 1864

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Statistics for pragmatism

Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pragmatism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for pragmatism


How to pronounce pragmatism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pragmatism

formal : a reasonable and logical way of doing things or of thinking about problems that is based on dealing with specific situations instead of on ideas and theories

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pragmatism

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Nglish: Translation of pragmatism for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about pragmatism

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