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

Taken as a whole, though, this was a season infused with a sense of pragmatism. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "5 Takeaways From Spring 2019 Couture," 26 Jan. 2019 But Washington doesn’t seem to reward anymore the kind of pragmatism that Lamar Alexander and others in the old guard specialize in. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Lamar Alexander, pillar of Washington’s old guard, is retiring from the Senate," 17 Dec. 2018 Once in office, Tester effectively maintained his brand of political pragmatism and independence, and won reelection by 4 percentage points in 2012, even though Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won Montana by 14. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "Jon Tester reelected to US Senate, holding on to Montana seat for Democrats," 7 Nov. 2018 Making that into a new, innovative, attractive garment requires both pragmatism and idealism. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Where Hype Meets Hygge: Introducing Public School and Eileen Fisher’s Up-Cycled Collaboration," 24 Oct. 2018 Some of Trump’s strongest supporters are Northeastern Republicans, like Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie, whose ideological pragmatism eventually blurred into careerist pandering. Ezra Klein, Vox, "The fall of the not-quite-Trumpers," 6 Nov. 2018 Now, here comes the GT4C Lusso T to extend the Lusso’s unique brand of pragmatism even further, with a lower base price, better fuel economy, and a more reasonable top speed—a mere 199 mph. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "The Ferrari "Family Car" Still Spits Fire," 24 Aug. 2018 This kind of culture war rhetoric, and the opportunism of the mainstream more generally, is far from the pragmatism and desire for mediation that Christian democrats once exhibited., "Europe forgot what 'conservative' means," 22 Mar. 2018 This pragmatism squeezed the spiritual core from the Brazilian game, making the team difficult to distinguish from its competitors. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The Annoying Genius Who Makes the World Cup Worth Watching," 5 July 2018

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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Last Updated

1 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for pragmatism

The first known use of pragmatism was circa 1864

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

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What made you want to look up pragmatism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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