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

The congressman said his shift reflected his pragmatism. New York Times, "lone House Democrat from Texas with an “A” rating," 9 Sep. 2019 Fonseca knows how to get his side to play attractive football, but some pragmatism may be needed in the future., "Lazio 1-1 Roma: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Pulsating Rome Derby Ends All Square," 1 Sep. 2019 Mandelup walks the tightest of ropes, exposing the reciprocal delusions fuelling these transactions, juxtaposing the audience’s horror with her subjects’ excruciating pragmatism. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "“Jawline,” Reviewed: A Chilling Look at the Making of a Teen Influencer," 27 Aug. 2019 Bill Gates has always been a compelling figure, but what makes him such an interesting person to think about right now is the way in which his optimism and pragmatism drives his approach to problem-solving. James Hibberd,, "Bill Gates documentary series coming to Netflix from Inconvenient Truth director," 20 Aug. 2019 Others say pragmatism is pushing them towards Biden. Bo Erickson, CBS News, "100 Democrats walk into the Iowa State Fair -- here are their thoughts on 2020," 14 Aug. 2019 Victoria Beckham injects a bit of working-mother pragmatism into her clothes. Washington Post, "Gabriela Hearst is dressing women for a new era of political power," 17 Aug. 2019 The characters of Happiness, As Such seem united in their credo of bleak pragmatism. Abhrajyoti Chakraborty, The New Republic, "Natalia Ginzburg’s Radical Clarity," 5 Aug. 2019 For two and a half hours, moderate and progressive candidates grappled with whether pragmatism or idealism was the best formula for defeating Mr. Trump next year. Alan Rappeport, New York Times, "Echo Trump’s Tough Talk, or Lift Tariffs? Democrats Clash Over Trade," 31 July 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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Statistics for pragmatism

Last Updated

13 Sep 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

Spanish Central: Translation of pragmatism

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

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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