pragmatism

noun
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 pragmatism (audio) \ adjective or noun
pragmatistic \ ˌprag-​mə-​ˈti-​stik How to pronounce pragmatism (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 if the British leader attempts to play both sides out of opportunism, the U.S. president’s search for middle ground is born of pragmatism. Washington Post, 10 June 2021 This scheme allows residents to identify their homes from the street easily and was a conscious effort to combat the brutal pragmatism found in many of the city's past design efforts in the neighborhood. Brenda Richardson, Forbes, 27 May 2021 Hurt by the pragmatism of Hazel’s stance — and ultimately respectful of it — Herb turns off the volume on the live recording. Ariana Romero, refinery29.com, 16 Apr. 2021 Beneath the fray is a debate over the meaning of pragmatism in policy. Stephanie Hanes, The Christian Science Monitor, 2 June 2021 Hot desks are part innovation, part pragmatism with a future-of-work spin. Meghan M. Biro, Forbes, 18 May 2021 The findings applied to both conservatives and liberals, showing a degree of pragmatism by voters. BostonGlobe.com, 13 May 2021 But from the Compromise of 1790 to the current imbroglio over pandemic relief, getting things done in Congress has always required pragmatism, compromise and highly imperfect solutions. Star Tribune, 8 Mar. 2021 Carbon County shows how the energy transformation that America needs to make is possible, but may happen reluctantly, driven by pragmatism more than a desire to stop burning the coal and oil that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. New York Times, 3 Mar. 2021

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

7 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pragmatism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pragmatism. Accessed 25 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for pragmatism

pragmatism

noun

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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