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

Even before his death, Bush’s pragmatism had been elevated to full-blown statesmanship. Julia Azari, Vox, "Death of a statesman: George H.W. Bush’s legacy," 6 Dec. 2018 Venom was a solution to a very common superhero conundrum Given Venom’s current status as one of Spider-Man’s most iconic foes, the character’s origin story is, fittingly, a hilarious combination of chance and pragmatism. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Venom, Spider-Man’s symbiote supervillain, explained," 3 Oct. 2018 This was a side of enviable quality, made even more ruthless by a healthy blend of efficiency and pragmatism., "World Cup Countdown: 18 Weeks to Go - Are Pozzo's Italy the Greatest National Team Ever?," 15 Feb. 2018 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

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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Statistics for pragmatism

Last Updated

24 May 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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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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