pragmatism

noun

prag·​ma·​tism ˈprag-mə-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce pragmatism (audio)
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
pragmatist adjective or noun
pragmatistic 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.
Recent Examples on the Web His relative anonymity and young age turned out to be non-issues as fans quickly fell in love with his witty and adventurous portrayal of The Doctor. 12 of 14 Peter Capaldi Adding some pragmatism to the character was Peter Calpadi, who took over from 2013 to 2017. Stephanie Sengwe, Peoplemag, 25 Nov. 2023 There is, no doubt, a mix of pragmatism and principle in her position. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, 28 Jan. 2024 Credit to the Niners for being pragmatic this season, empowering Purdy and putting him in comfortable situations, but true pragmatism calls for a pro-style offense on Sunday. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, 24 Jan. 2024 The right response would be a little less vanity, and a little more pragmatism in policymaking, Ulbrich argues. Peter Vanham, Fortune Europe, 12 Dec. 2023 She was known for her directness and candor, and a pragmatism that put her in position to be the deciding vote in many of the court’s most consequential decisions. Kate Zernike, New York Times, 2 Dec. 2023 On the left, loud voices accused him of a coldblooded pragmatism that put strategic gains ahead of human rights. Thomas W. Lippman, Washington Post, 30 Nov. 2023 His depiction shows that in international politics, the pursuit of idealism has always competed with pragmatism and self-interest, requiring tradeoffs and fueling resentment. WAR STORIES The end of World War II unleashed an era of fantastical narrative creation. Foreign Affairs, 20 Oct. 2023 The family’s attempts at publicity always gave off a mix of sincere affection and desperate pragmatism. E. Tammy Kim, The New Yorker, 8 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pragmatism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

see pragmatic

First Known Use

circa 1864, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pragmatism was circa 1864

Dictionary Entries Near pragmatism

Cite this Entry

“Pragmatism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pragmatism. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

pragmatism

noun
prag·​ma·​tism ˈprag-mə-ˌtiz-əm How to pronounce pragmatism (audio)
1
: a practical approach to problems and affairs
2
: a doctrine that truth is to be tested by the practical effects of belief
pragmatist adjective or noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!