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

Essential Meaning 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 The right person for the job will balance vision with pragmatism.

Full 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

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 The heart-wrenching dilemma facing Freda sits in stark contrast with Esther’s pragmatism. Richard Kuipers, Variety, 19 Dec. 2021 Hence, the industry is calling for energy pragmatism. Gaurav Sharma, Forbes, 9 Dec. 2021 Biden campaigned on his ability to bring people together and deliver, contrasting his pragmatism with opponent Bernie Sanders in the primary. PRES. NBC News, 3 Oct. 2021 These cultural norms, partly made up of pragmatism, reticence, and humble and quiet nature, have inadvertently paved the way for Finland’s great success in a number of categories. Heikki Väänänen, Forbes, 15 Nov. 2021 Singapore built its reputation on being farsighted, taking bold steps, making hard choices, resiliency in the face of crisis, and, above all, pragmatism. Devadas Krishnadas, Fortune, 28 Oct. 2021 Quiet pragmatism, due process has failed us, as 99.9% of the world’s climate scientists can testify. Nancy Doyle, Forbes, 12 Nov. 2021 Other Republicans already had been advocating for that kind of pragmatism, including Ron Nehring, former chair of the state and San Diego Republican parties, and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Nov. 2021 Creative pragmatism within politics has been more readily available than previously. David Marchese, New York Times, 1 Nov. 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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Dictionary Entries Near pragmatism

pragmatic sanction



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Last Updated

8 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pragmatism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

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